COLUMBIA, Mo. - Neil Watson scored 18 points and had seven assists as Southern Miss knocked off Missouri, 71-63, Sunday afternoon, to advance to the Quarterfinals of the NIT.
The Golden Eagles (29-6) will face Minnesota this Tuesday at 8 p.m. CT. The game will be televised on ESPN. The victory tied the 1950-51 squad with 29 wins for the most wins in school history. It also snapped Missouri's 82-game non-conference home winning streak.
"We showed our resiliency and our toughness, we defended the team by holding them under 40% on their own floor," said Southern Miss head coach Donnie Tyndall. "Mizzou made two or three different runs and our guys did what they did all season long. They answered the bell when things did go their way whether it was driving the ball and getting it to the rim, getting to the foul line, or making big threes. I thought both teams competed for forty minutes. I thought our team was more fortunate to make a few more plays and show some resiliency down the stretch."
Missouri (23-12) started off fast, getting a three from Earnest Ross and a Jabari Brown layup to take an early 5-0 lead in the first minute. However, Aaron Brown hit a jumper followed by a Jerrold Brooks three to tie the game.
Ross hit a pair of free throws and after a minute and a half of no scoring, Jordan Clarkson drained a three to make it 10-5 Tigers.
Southern Miss tied the game on a Chip Armelin three and a layup from Michael Craig. Missouri again hit a three-pointer, this time by Brown, to regain the lead. But, after Craig hit one-of-two free throws, Neil Watson gave the Golden Eagles their first lead of the game, hitting a three-pointer with 10:45 to play.
Keanau Post made one-of-two free throws to tie the game, but Watson found Eason and Craig for back-to-back baskets and an 18-14 lead.
After Clarkson made one-of-two from the line, Bingaya made a jumper, then Armelin stepped in front of a Ross pass and went in for a layup, giving Southern Miss a 22-15 lead with 6:45 to play.
The Tigers cut the lead to three, but a three from Aaron Brown pushed it back to six points. Missouri then hit three-of-four free throws to again cut the lead to three, but a three-point play by Craig made it a six-point game.
Brown hit two free throws, but after Brooks hit one-of-two, Watson drained a three-pointer to give Southern Miss its largest lead of the half, 32-24, with 2:11 to play. Missouri closed the half scoring five of the last seven points, including a three at the buzzer by Ross to send Southern Miss into halftime with a 34-29 lead.
Watson started the second half hitting a three-pointer, followed by a running jumper to push the lead to 10. After Johnathan Williams hit a jumper, Matt Bingaya converted a three-point play to give the Golden Eagles their largest lead of the game, 42-31.
Ross hit a three and Aaron Brown hit a jumper. However, Missouri went on a 7-0 run to cut the deficit to 44-41, just over five minutes into the half. But two Daveon Boardingham free throws, followed by an Aaron Brown layup and two free throws from Deonte Houston pushed the lead back to nine points.
Missouri again cut the lead to five, but Jerrold Brooks answered with a three-pointer and Craig made it double digits with a layup. Once again, the Tigers made it a five-point game. However, Aaron Brown and Watson drained consecutive three-pointers to give Southern Miss a 61-50 lead with 7:29 to play.
Southern Miss held Missouri without a field goal over the next five minutes until Clarkson's jumper cut the deficit to five with two minutes to play. But that's as close as the Tigers would get.
Southern Miss connected on 42.6-percent (23-of-54) from the field and 39.1-percent (9-of-23) from three. Missouri was held to just 39.5-percent (17-of-43) from the floor, but was 7-of-14 (50.0%) from three. The Black and Gold also outrebounded the Tigers, 34-to-29.
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