University of Missouri

Missouri beats Tennessee, snaps nine-game losing streak

Missouri's Terrence Phillips, right, celebrates a basket in front of Tennessee's Kevin Punter, left, during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Columbia, Mo. Missouri won the game 75-64.
Missouri's Terrence Phillips, right, celebrates a basket in front of Tennessee's Kevin Punter, left, during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Columbia, Mo. Missouri won the game 75-64. AP

The final buzzer cut through a fog of nervous energy like a sweet symphony Saturday at Mizzou Arena.

Trying to snap a nine-game losing streak, Missouri built a double-digit halftime lead against Tennessee during the emotionally charged “Rally for Rhyan Game.”

The season-best crowd of 10,536 desperately wanted the Tigers to hang on, but recent history suggested it might be tough.

The road-weary Volunteers trimmed a 14-point deficit early in the second half to only four points in the closing minutes, but second-year coach Kim Anderson’s squad wouldn’t be denied — not on this night and not with so much for which to play.

Missouri, 9-16 and 2-10 in the SEC, dominated the boards 41-26 and overcame 17 turnovers in gutting out a 75-64 victory during a game that raised more than $50,000 for pediatric cancer in honor of assistant coach Brad Loos’ 5-year-old daughter, Rhyan, who was diagnosed in October with stage-four neuroblastoma.

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“Before the game, coach Loos said something that really struck home with us,” said senior Ryan Rosburg, who scored a game-high 21 points with five rebounds and two blocks. “He said that every day when his daughter goes to the hospital, she has no fear, because she knows she’s going to beat cancer. She’s not worried about anything else. She knows she’s going to win. He told us that we needed to play the way she would and make her proud. Go out there and have no fears and expect to win.”

Undoubtedly, Rhyan, who was presented the game ball after the victory, is proud and the community’s support — financially and by its attendance — was clearly the most important thing that happened Saturday afternoon.

Still, the victory was pretty sweet too for a win-starved Tigers team.

“I don’t think losing was an option for us,” said Kevin Puryear, a freshman forward from Blue Springs South who scored 17 points with five rebounds. “Today, we were more determined than we’ve ever been, I feel like. … We love coach Loos and we love the Loos family. We just really wanted to do that for him.”

Missouri's players and coaches discussed a 75–64 win against Tennessee on Saturday at Missouri Arena. It was an emotional when in the Rally for Rhyan game.

Rosburg’s two-handed slam punctuated things with 10 seconds left. The crowd’s roar felt more like a community’s joyous sigh of relief than a mere basketball celebration — one that echoed again after the final buzzer officially delivered Missouri’s first win in five weeks.

“Today was awesome — so special all around,” said Rosburg, who was unstoppable at times against undersized Tennessee and finished 8 of 9 from the field. “You could tell everyone had a little more pep in their step today. It was an amazing environment with the fan support and having the whole community rally around this little girl and our team.”

Rosburg and Puryear helped dominate the paint and sophomore guard Namon Wright chipped in 13 points with five rebounds for Mizzou, which outscored Tennessee 30-18 inside and shot 54.5 percent from the field.

Missouri assistant coach Brad Loos talked about how appreciative his family was for the community support shown to the Rally for Rhyan game Saturday against Tennessee at Mizzou Arena in Columbia.

Even when Tennessee, which shot 38.2 percent overall, would find a spark, Missouri authored game-changing plays to halt those runs.

Wright picked off a pass near midcourt and beat two Volunteers down the floor with a vicious one-handed slam with 6:12 remaining that forced Tennessee coach Rick Barnes to burn a timeout with Mizzou Arena in full throat.

Freshman Terrence Phillips’ offensive rebound of his own miss with a minute remaining also proved pivotal, forcing Tennessee to start fouling and helping ice the win for Missouri.

“They were determined not to let this game get away from them,” Anderson said. “Guys made some plays. … I just think they had a determination today, and certainly the beauty of day probably figured into that, but they didn’t want to lose. I think they were tired of losing.”

The Volunteers dropped to 12-13 overall, 5-7 in conference and 1-8 on the road.

Phillips didn’t have a great night scoring, but he contributed big in other ways, finishing with five points and game highs of seven rebounds and five assists.

Missouri jumped in front in the opening minutes behind Wright, Rosburg and Puryear.

Wright’s first three gave the Tigers their first lead since the closing seconds against Mississippi on Feb. 3, a span of three games.

Mizzou never led in losses at Alabama and Vanderbilt, but surged in front 38-27 at halftime — the team’s first double-digit lead since crushing Auburn 76-61 on Jan. 9 at home.

“It was different,” Rosburg said. “We’re usually fighting from behind, but it was great and we showed pretty good composure. We had some turnovers, but we found a way to win. I’m just proud of everyone.”

MISSOURI 75, TENNESSEE 64

TENNESSEE

Min

FG-A

FT-A

O-R

A

PF

PT

Punter Jr.

34

5-13

9-13

0-1

3

3

21

Moore

29

3-7

0-3

0-3

2

4

6

Alexander

25

2-3

2-2

4-7

0

3

6

Phillips

32

4-7

0-0

1-4

2

5

10

Baulkman

29

6-13

1-2

1-1

0

1

17

Hubbs III

19

1-3

0-1

0-1

1

0

2

Mostella

11

0-4

2-3

1-1

0

1

2

Kasongo

8

0-1

0-0

0-0

0

0

0

Schofield

7

0-3

0-0

0-2

0

4

0

Reese

6

0-1

0-0

1-2

0

0

0

TEAM

3-4

Totals

200

21-55

14-24

11-26

8

21

64

Percentages: FG .382, FT .583. Three-Point Goals: 8-27, .296 (Baulkman 4-8, Phillips 2-4, Punter Jr. 2-8, Moore 0-1, Hubbs III 0-1, Schofield 0-2, Mostella 0-3). Blocked Shots: 1 (Moore). Turnovers: 5 (Hubbs III 2, Schofield, Punter Jr., Moore). Steals: 4 (Baulkman 2, Punter Jr., Moore). Technical Fouls: None.

MISSOURI

Min

FG-A

FT-A

O-R

A

PF

PT

Phillips

26

2-5

1-2

4-7

5

4

5

Wright

25

3-7

5-6

0-5

2

3

13

Clark

22

0-1

4-4

0-5

1

4

4

Puryear

25

6-8

3-4

1-5

1

2

17

Rosburg

35

8-9

5-7

0-5

1

3

21

Isabell

25

1-5

3-4

1-1

2

1

5

Gant

16

2-3

0-0

1-6

0

2

5

VanLeer

16

1-4

0-0

0-0

0

1

2

Walton

5

1-2

1-3

1-1

0

1

3

Woods

5

0-0

0-0

0-0

0

1

0

TEAM

3-6

Totals

200

24-44

22-30

11-41

12

22

75

Percentages: FG .545, FT .733. Three-Point Goals: 5-16, .313 (Puryear 2-3, Wright 2-5, Gant 1-1, Phillips 0-2, Isabell 0-2, VanLeer 0-3). Blocked Shots: 3 (Rosburg 2, Woods). Turnovers: 17 (Wright 3, Phillips 3, Isabell 3, Clark 3, Rosburg 2, VanLeer, Puryear, Gant). Steals: 3 (Rosburg, Wright, Clark). Technical Fouls: None.

Half: Missouri 38-27. Attendance: 10,536. Officials: Mike Nance, Glenn Tuitt, Sean Casey.

AP-WF-02-13-16 2250GMT

Tod Palmer: 816-234-4389, @todpalmer

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