Xavier Pinson, No. 19 Missouri avenge loss to No. 6 Tennessee

Missouri’s Xavier Pinson became the first player to score at least 20 points this season against No. 6 Tennessee, firing in a game-high 27 Saturday night as the 19th-ranked Tigers led nearly wire-to-wire in a 73-64 Southeastern Conference win in Knoxville.

Dru Smith added 18 for Missouri (10-2, 4-2), which used an outstanding defensive effort to avenge a 20-point loss in its first matchup with the Volunteers on Dec. 30. The Tigers limited Tennessee to 43.8 percent shooting from the field and forced 18 turnovers.

Yves Pons paced the Volunteers (10-3, 4-3) with 20 points, sinking three 3-pointers. Reserve Victor Bailey Jr. and Josiah-Jordan James each scored 12, but leading scorer John Fulkerson was held without a field goal until the second half and finished with just seven points.

Pinson wasted little time doing what no one else had done to defensive-minded Tennessee, tallying 19 points in the first half and getting to 20 on a free throw 15 seconds into the second half. His driving layup high off the glass with 1:56 left in the game made it 68-57, effectively sealing the outcome.

The game’s beginning was a 180-degree turn from the teams’ first meeting in Columbia, where Tennessee jumped out to a big lead and coasted to a 73-53 decision. On that night, the Volunteers moved the ball well and stifled Missouri’s offense.

This time, the Tigers were the aggressors from the start, holding Tennessee to three points in the first 5 1/2 minutes and establishing an eight-point lead on Jeremiah Tilmon’s layup. The Volunteers coughed up 10 turnovers in the first eight-plus minutes, leading to a dozen points.

Missouri’s lead reached 13 on two occasions before Tennessee finally found traction. It drew within 28-25 with 5:31 left on Bailey’s layup, but the Tigers pushed the lead back to nine before settling for a 40-34 advantage at halftime.

–Field Level Media

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