Missouri's Alex Oriakhi flexes his muscles after a dunk during the first half of Missouri's 98-79 win over Ole Miss.
Sat, 09 Feb 2013 23:43:08 GMT — COLUMBIA --- This just in: Missouri is a lot better at home than on the road.(This is why they pay me to do what I do. I pick up on stuff like this.)Here's the latest example of Home Cookin' vs. Road Kill --- after a Keion Bell breakaway dunk with 2:20 left in the first half against Mississippi on Saturday, the Tigers had scored 50 points. When did the Tigers score their 50th point in their earlier game at Ole Miss? Mmmm, that will have to wait until next year. In a 34-point turnaround from four weeks ago --- a 64-49 Missouri loss at Ole Miss --- the No. 21 Tigers routed the Rebels 98-79 before a energetic crowd of 14,013 at Mizzou Arena. Perfectly awful on the road (0-5), still perfect at home (14-0)."I think we played well, the guys showed great intensity, particularly early in the ball game when I think we did a really good job of establishing a low-post presence," Missouri coach Frank Haith said."Our ability to play with some toughness in the paint was the key to the game. We played with some grit."They did indeed --- unlike their efforts on the road, where the Tigers have disappeared faster than a snowflake on your tongue.But on this day, Missouri (17-6, 6-4 SEC) outrebounded Ole Miss (18-5, 7-3) by a whopping 50-32 margain and held a 42-30 edge in points in the paint.Alex Orakhi had the game of his career with the Tigers, as the 6-9 senior totaled 22 points and 18 rebounds, both season highs."I've always told myself that you can dominate a game without scoring," Oriakhi said. "To me, 20 rebounds is more impressive than 20 points."I pride myself on rebounding and when one of our guys misses a shot, I just try to clean it up."Oriaki cleaned up 10 offensive rebounds. If you're not sure, that's a big number."They just dominated us all over the floor," Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said. "Anytime they did miss a shot, which wasn't often, Oriahki got the offensive rebound."This wasn't much of a contest. A 3-pointer by Phil Pressey --- who totaled 22 points and four assists to put him in the school record book (more on that to come) --- gave the Tigers the lead for good at 6-5 just over two minutes into the game.That started a 30-8 explosion, as the Tigers built a 33-13 lead. Ole Miss lived up to its name during this game-changing run, as they had 15 Ole Misses in 18 attempts."I thought we were initially on our heels," Kennedy said, "and then it seemed like we were running uphill the whole game."Missouri led 50-34 at the half and the lead never dipped below 14 the rest of the way. And while the Tigers are now 14-0 at home, this was easily their most impressive win at the friendly confines."They're one of the better teams in our conference," Haith said. "But if we can play the way we did today, then the sky's the limit for us. If we play with the attitude that we did today, we have a chance to be a pretty good team."For that to happen, this basketball version of she loves me, she loves me not, needs to stop.Next up for the Tigers is a trip to Mississippi State --- arguably one of the worst teams in the nation in the power conferences --- on Wednesday night."We have to put this one behind us and get ready for the next fight," Oriakhi said. "Whatever we do at home, we have to bottle it up, drink it and do it on the road."MU fans will drink to that.Pressey had four assists, just over half of his average, but that was enough to surpass Anthony Peeler's career record of 497 set in 1988-92. Pressey, just a junior, now has 499 career assists."It's pretty crazy," Pressey said. "I know who Anthony Peeler is and it's a great honor." Bell finished with 21 points, Jabari Brown added 14 and Earnest Ross had 10 for the Tigers, who are now a sparkling 81-4 at Mizzou Arena since the 2008-2009 season."Our backs are against the wall," Oriakhi said. "This is my last year of college basketball, so I want to make it as special as possible."I've won a national championship (at UConn in 2011) and I want to do everything in my power to win another one. And I want these guys to be able to experience what I was able to experience."These guys are like my brothers, they're great guys, and I want them to have the best."Perhaps, just perhaps, Saturday was a start, as this was arguably the Tigers' best effort of the season.Now, it's time to take this show on the road.
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