McRae Scores 31, But Tennessee Falls To Missouri, 75-70

Sunday, February 16, 2014 - by Special to
COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Tennessee rallied from down by as many as 13 to lead in the second half, but Missouri outlasted the Vols to win, 75-70, on Saturday. Tennessee had two opportunities to tie the game in the final seconds, but couldn't.

The Vols fell to 15-10 overall and 6-6 in the SEC while the Tigers moved to 18-7 overall and are also 6-6 in the league.


html" style="outline: none;">Jordan McRae led all scorers with 31 points, his fourth career 30-point game.

Juniors Josh Richardson (16) and Jarnell Stokes (13) combined for 29 points.

Missouri was led by Jabari Brown (24) and Earnest Ross (15).

McRae had tied the game at 62 on a 3-pointer with 5:40 left. But Brown's jumper seconds later recaptured the lead for Mizzou, 64-62. The Tigers would hold the lead for the rest of the way.

Jordan Clarkson, who had three points in the game's first 35 minutes, hit two jumpers late in the game. The second put the Tigers ahead, 70-65 with 2:12 left in the game. Those shots proved to be the final blows to the Vols' chances.

Richardson cut the deficit to one possession as he made all three free throws after being fouled on a trifecta with 34.2 left in the game, 71-68.

Tremendous pressure by the Vols' defense resulted in Derek Reese coming away up a steal with 27.2 left, giving Tennessee a chance to tie the game.

Richardson was fouled with 18.1 and made both free throws to get within one, 71-70. Brown answered with a pair of foul shots with 15.2 left in the game to put Mizzou up 73-70.

The Vols had a chance to tie the game, but McRae's 3-pointer hit the front rim with eight seconds left. The rebound went out of bounds off Missouri, giving Tennessee another chance to tie the game. But the Vols turned the ball over on the inbounds and Johnathan Williams made a pair of free throws to secure the five-point win, 75-70.

The Vols used an 8-0 run to take a 55-51 lead with 11 minutes left in the game -- that was the Vols' largest lead of the game. Missouri proceeded to score nine of the next 11 points in the game to regain the lead at 60-57 on a 3-point play and a jumper by Brown with just under eight minutes left in the game.

Tennessee trailed 41-37 at halftime, as the Vols chipped away to recover from a 13-point deficit early in the game. McRae (14) and Stokes (11) combined for 25 of the Vols' 37 points in the half.

A 3-point play by Stokes with 1:30 left, brought the Vols to within two at 37-35. But Missouri scored the next four points to regain a six-point advantage.

Missouri hit 8-of-9 to start the game as the Tigers jumped out to a 24-11 lead with 11 minutes left in the first half.

This was just the eighth meeting all-time between the new SEC foes, with the Tigers holding a 5-3 lead. It was Tennessee's first game in Columbia since 1984.

The Vols return to action on Tuesday at Georgia travels to Knoxville for a 9 p.m., tip-off. The game airs on ESPNU and can be heard on the Vol Network.

Postgame quotes:

HEAD COACH Cuonzo Martin

Opening Statement... 
"I thought it was a hard fought game. I thought we got out to a slow start with our transition defense. We dug ourselves a hole and were able to bounce back. In the second half, we went back and forth and what it came down to was that some of our attempts from the three-point line didn't fall. I thought Brown made plays to win the game and get to the free throw line. Clarkson made two big baskets to keep his team right there. Good team win for those guys."

On the Mizzou bench being productive... 
"The thing going for us into the game, if Mizzou was to beat us, then their bigs needed to beat us. It wasn't the case of allowing those guards to rush their shots and get rid of those shots and I think they took five threes for the game. I think from that standpoint, we did a good job. We held Clarkson down, and Brown did a good job. Once again, we told our bigs that we would rather them have more and make them make those plays those big guys. Those guys were going to get some shots but their guards couldn't get their heads up and make those plays."

On Jarnell Stokes' dry spell in the second half... 
"I think from a better standpoint we were able to get more three-point looks. I thought he really did a good job of trying to keep balls alive even with bodies around him. He and Jeronne (Maymon) did a great job of getting their bigs in foul trouble. But again, they were really collapsing on it and forcing other guys to make plays in the ball game."


On guarding Missouri's trio of guards...
"It was tough for us. Having guys like that who score how they score, it's hard to guard them. At the end of the day, we've got to do a better job on defense."

On the importance of limiting Jabari Brown, Jordan Clarkson, and Earnest Ross...
"That's their whole team. If we stop those three, then we win the game."

On the last inbounds play for Tennessee...
"They (Missouri) just switched out on the screens. They did what they were supposed to do, and they got a hand on it at the end."

On the teams' play in the second half...
"We were playing hard. We came out and jumped on them early. We just didn't get the stops we needed to win at the end."

Missouri Head Coach Frank Haith

Opening Statement...
"It was a great win for us. Quick turnaround playing a team that I think is an NCAA tournament caliber team. We had to bring it. Their physicality in the paint area was tremendous. We got great production on all of our post guys. Every one of those guys that played gave us something positive. It was great to see and we need that as we take a move forward."

On giving up 16 offensive rebounds... 
"We were down six on the board. We knew they were a really good offensive rebounding team. They were very, very aggressive and that's what they do. We knew that going in. Jarnell Stokes is getting 4.5 offensive rebounds per game but tonight he only got three, so we should be proud of that."

On the difference between the middle of the game and the way they played during that stretch... 
"We shot 57% tonight. I thought we were taking good shots and running good offense. Jabari (Brown) isn't going to just force shots because that's what he does. He's a mature player. He's very patient in what he does. We ran some plays for him and he made some big shots. We want to make sure we run good offense and I thought our guys brought good offense. We shared the ball and we got good production out of a lot of guys."

On the guys coming out with such intensity today... 
"We challenge our guys. We had one-day prep. We had such an intense game on Thursday night against Arkansas so we couldn't do a whole lot except really prepare mentally and talk about what we were going to have to go up against [the physicality of the game] and not be surprised when those guys shove you up against the basket. Those guys shove you because they're just moving. It's not like they're pushing. They're 270 pounds and they're just walking and moving you. I thought our guys really prepared understanding that and did the best they could. We wanted them to play defense, and we wanted them to run the court. They're big athletes so we wanted to try to get some things in transition and hopefully have some positive things that way."

Missouri Junior Guard Jabari Brown

On playing for the big moment at end of games... 
"It's a team effort. We knew (Jordan) McRae was going to get the ball at the end and I was able to switch it out. The guy threw it, and I was able to make a play on it. I'm just trying to do whatever it takes to get a win."

On the contribution of Missouri's forwards... 
"I love them. You guys are always asking us how we feel about our big men. We have confidence in them. I feel like they are getting better and better every game."

On Tennessee's defense... 
"They were just being very physical, and the referees let us play. To their credit, they did a good job of that and teams are going to key in on us."

On Tennessee guard Jordan McRae... 
"He is real long and lanky and able to drive into the lane. I credit him and he had a good game. I'm glad we were able to get stops against him at the end."

Missouri Freshman Forward Torren Jonesn

On his breakthrough performance this afternoon... 
"It was a physical game and that is the way I play. I felt like I was in my element."

On his blocked shot in the first half... 
"It definitely got me going. It got the team going. It was a momentum changer."

On how the game's foul situation changed the last ten minutes of the game... 
"I felt like our approach changed. It was a mental thing. They were abusing us in the first half, but we just wanted to stop all of that."



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