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January 26, 2013

Mizzou demolishes Vandy, 81-59

COLUMBIA, MO -- Too big. Too strong. Too experienced. Too deep. And playing at home. It all added up to the most one-sided defeat of the season for a young and out-manned Vanderbilt team playing in its first SEC game in Columbia, MO.

The No. 22 ranked Tigers made a mockery of the first-ever SEC matchup with the Commodores. Missouri out-rebounded, out-shot and out-hustled Vanderbilt from start to finish, blowing out the Commodores 81-59.

Missouri is now 4-2 in the SEC and 15-4 overall, while Vanderbilt falls to 2-4 in the SEC and 8-10 overall.

Missouri scorched the nets from all ranges, hitting 55 percent from the field and 53 percent from 3. Missouri rained 3s from all areas of Mizzou Arena, making 11 of 21, many from NBA range.

"The biggest problem in the first half was our inability to keep Oriahki off the boards," said head coach Kevin Stallings. "That and their 3-point shooting. Two guys had six of the eight and we had no help defense, and they still made six 3s. Not a good day. We were going to have to have some things go right for us anyway."

"When you don't play well and you don't play hard, you don't win."

Jabari Brown led all scorers with 21 points, making 8-of-12 from the field, including 4-of-8 from 3. Keion Bell, returning to action from an ankle injury, had 12, as did Phil Pressey. Auburn transfer Earnest Ross had nine, on three 3s, and seven rebounds.

Rod Odom had a career-high tying 17 points for Vanderbilt. Kedren Johnson had 11, all coming in the second half. Dai-Jon Parker and Kevin Bright both had eight. Freshman forward Sheldon Jeter had four points and three rebounds in 24 minutes.

UConn transfer Alex Oriahki single-handedly out-rebounded the entire Vanderbilt roster in the first half, pulling down eight boards to VU's seven. Oriahki had 18 points, hitting 7-of-9 shots from the field, and a game-high 12 rebounds.

Vanderbilt was out-rebounded as a team, 40-18. No Vanderbilt played had more than four rebounds.

Wit the game tied at 11 with 14 minutes left until halftime, Missouri went on a 29-2 run, all but ending any hopes that the Commodores would come to Columbia and pull of the upset.

Missouri went into the half up 49-20, the most points VU has allowed in a half this season. The Tigers hit 55 percent of their shots from the field in the first half, including eight of 15 3-pointers. Missouri, the nation's third-best rebounding team, out-rebounded Vanderbilt 24-7 in the first half alone.

VU went on a 11-2 run to open the second half, with 3s by Odom, Johnson and Bright, and eventually pulled within 55-39 at the 14:40 mark. But a flurry of points from Oriahki and a 3 by Brown ended the threat. Mizzou coasted the rest of the way to its easiest SEC win of the season.

Josh Henderson, Vanderbilt's tallest player, was utterly over-matched versus Oriahki and 6-9 forward Tony Criswell. Henderson played just six minutes, all in the first half, did not attempt a shot or free throw, and did not have a rebound. Neither he nor starting center Shelby Moats -- who had one rebound and one basket in the first half -- played in the second half.

"I just didn't think Shelby and Josh were doing much and there are no rights and privileges," said Stallings. "You have to compete at the highest level and I felt like we had to try something else. So that's what we did.

"They are very, very talented and you just knew they were due for a better game. Unfortunately they played very well today and we didn't play very well."

Odom, a forward, ended up playing center in the second half for Vandy. "This is how it is in league play," said Odom. "You just gotta put the tough ones behind you and go on to the next one."

Perhaps the only notable positive for VU was the fact that several seldom-used back-ups got considerable playing time. James Siakam played 16 minutes and scored seven points, and had a team-high four rebounds. The redshirt sophomore, who stands just 6-foot-7, played center for a good portion of the second half. Siakam also had one assist, one steal, one block and just one turnover.

"I just decided we were going to go with a small lineup and give James a chance to play," said Stallings.

Freshman A.J. Astroth played six minutes and made his lone attempt from the field, on a beautiful assist from Siakam. With the contributions from Siakam, Astroth and Bright, Vanderbilt's bench out-scored UofM's 17-14.

Vanderbilt goes back on the road this Tuesday to play Tennessee in Knoxville.

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