Missouri basketball takes down LSU for home SEC win. Here's what happened

Missouri Tigers guard D'Moi Hodge (5) shoots against LSU Tigers guard Justice Hill (3) during the first half on February 1, 2023, at Mizzou Arena.
Missouri Tigers guard D'Moi Hodge (5) shoots against LSU Tigers guard Justice Hill (3) during the first half on February 1, 2023, at Mizzou Arena.
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It was time to exorcise a demon from Mizzou Arena. Missouri men’s basketball hadn’t beaten LSU since 2016, dropping the last eight games in the series and entering Wednesday night’s matchup in Columbia.

By the time LSU head coach Matt McMahon took a timeout with 17:46 remaining in the first half, MU’s band was already playing Neck and its students were participating in the profane chant favored by fans of the Tigers from Baton Rouge. Missouri was already up 9-0, and it was clear its fast-paced attack was going to be too much for LSU.

"They had a level of energy," Missouri head coach Dennis Gates said after the game. "They had a level of jump. It was some pep to their step."

The home Tigers finished off with a 87-77 win. They moved to 17-5 on the season and 5-4 in SEC play.

For a game that could have been a trap following MU’s win over Iowa State on Saturday, the response was as good as head coach Dennis Gates could have hoped. That’s a positive sign, given that his team will likely be favored in the majority of their upcoming games, and have to avoid a major collapse to make the NCAA tournament.

"I didn't share that with our guys," Gates said of the long losing streak to LSU. "But I think that's an important understanding to the level of focus that our guys were able to play with."

Missouri will be back in action on Saturday, playing Mississippi State on the road. That game is scheduled to tip off at 5 p.m. and will be shown on the SEC Network.

The magic number

It’s been simple math so far this season for Missouri. If they got to 70 points, they won.

If they didn’t, they lost. The Tigers were just 1-5 so far this season when they didn’t hit that number and had lost 23 of their last 24 when they scored 69 or less.

On Wednesday, that wasn’t an issue. The Tigers got hot early and kept on rolling.

The success started from beyond the arc. Missouri was willing to take chances from deep in the first half, throwing up 23 attempts from that range.

The three-ball had been an issue for a stretch this year, with the Tigers going ice cold in losses against Florida and Texas A&M. Not the case Wednesday with 11 of the attempts going in.

In the earliest minutes, it was Noah Carter taking and making the long shots to get MU the lead. Carter finished the first half with 10 points and was 3-for-6 from three.

"It's fun when you can get in rhythms like that," Carter said. "We play unselfishly and we got shooters on this team that can straight-up shoot the ball, so it gets fun."

Kobe Brown led the Tigers in the first half with 17 points and made five of his six attempts from deep. The rest of the team also helped, with Isiaih Mosley and DeAndre Gholston also making notable contributions.

By halftime, they were up 48-35. In the second half, the offensive barrage continued, and Missouri hit the 70-point mark on a three-pointer from Gholston with 11:47 remaining in the game, and remained undefeated when it achieves that mark.

Brown's bonanza

The first game after he was named to a watchlist for the Oscar Robertson Trophy, which honors the national player of the year, Kobe Brown was out with an ankle injury against Alabama. He returned for the next game at Ole Miss and has shown why he was listed.

Wednesday’s game was no exception. Brown got hot early and never really cooled down, finishing with 26 points.

"I think it's his versatility," McMahon said after the game about what made Brown so dangerous. "That guy has played probably throughout his career some three, some four. Now you have him at the five and his ability to shoot the basketball, skill level very high."

What has made him even more exceptional this year has been his prowess from deep. In previous seasons with Missouri, he has struggled in that capacity, but for 2022-23, he seems to have developed a skill that has helped open things up for him.

Against LSU, Brown showed that talent off, hitting five of his six attempts from three. He wasn’t a one-sided player either, continuing to prove his value down low and grabbing eight rebounds for the Tigers, second on the team behind Mo Diarra, who had 10.

He also had five assists, which put him second in that category, behind Sean East, who led MU with six.

Late in the game, when LSU was playing its best basketball of the contest, Derek Fountain tried taking the ball to the basket. Brown stood in his way and had the presence of mind to put both hands on the ball as both players went up together.

The play was called a jump ball, and a steal for Brown. It also stifled any possible hope of an LSU comeback.

Other top contributors for Missouri included Carter, who finished with 14 points and three rebounds, along with Mosley (12 points) and Gholston (14 points). KJ Williams led LSU with 15 points and 11 rebounds.

This article originally appeared on Columbia Daily Tribune: Missouri basketball gets home SEC win over LSU. Here's what happened.