By Jake Sirkus
The No. 19 Missouri Tigers stunned the No. 6 Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday night in dominating fashion. The Tigers took this contest by a score of 73-64 at the Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, Tennessee.
The Tigers came into this game as 8-point underdogs but, more importantly, they had a huge hill to climb, as they hadn’t beaten the Volunteers in Knoxville since 1972.
However, Missouri head coach Cuonzo Martin had his guys ready to roll in Knoxville, as the Tigers jumped out to a quick lead and never looked back. Missouri had the lead for all but 35 seconds of the game and never trailed.
It was quite a difference from the last time these two teams met, when Tennessee scored 23 of the game’s first 27 points back in December at Mizzou Arena en route to a 73-53 win.
The Tigers were led by standout guard Xavier Pinson. Pinson had 19 points in the first half and would later finish the game with 27 points, shooting 10 for 14 from the field and 3 for 3 from three-point range.
“Coach told me everything I needed to hear, not everything I wanted to hear,” Pinson said when asked about how he climbed out of his two-game slump to start 2021.
Coach Martin followed up after the game with his thoughts on where his Tigers should be placed in the next AP Poll Top 25 Rankings.
“Like I said to our guys, a top-10 team won today,” he said. “I truly feel that.”
In Martin’s previous 12 seasons as a college basketball head coach, he has never defeated a team ranked in the top-6. This season he has done it twice, as his team full of veterans certainly played like it in Missouri’s win on Saturday night.
“They played like a veteran team, and they knew exactly what they wanted to do,” Vols head coach Rick Barnes said after the game. “Cuonzo [Martin] made really nice adjustments. He saw what his team was doing well and kept feeding it.”
Missouri was also led by 18 points from senior guard Dru Smith, while senior big man Jeremiah Tilmon dominated the paint tonight with a pair of blocks and 5 rebounds.
After going ten days without playing, Missouri has now played three games in the last seven days. It will be another quick turnaround coming up for the Tigers, as they will have two days off before traveling 317 miles on I-75 and I-85 down to Auburn to face the 9-7 Tigers.
Edited by Emma Moloney