Brown and Hodge propel Missouri to Round of 16

For the first time since 2010 (4,745 days to be exact), Missouri will advance to the Round of 16 after defeating Utah State 76-65 in Sacramento on Thursday.

Kobe Brown and D’Moi Hodge led the way for the Tigers, posting 42 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and six steals. Most of their production came in the second half, with each of them making individual runs to score 28 of Mizzou’s 41 points in the second half.

The Tigers (25-9) forced Utah State to shoot 4-for-24 from behind the arc in that game, which was tied for their worst performance of the season. The Aggies also turned the ball over 15 times, leading to 23 points for Mizzou.

However, Utah State (26-9) had the upper hand early in the second period.

With his team trailing 49-47 with 10:46 to play, Brown decided to take matters into his own hands. He scored 12 consecutive points for Mizzou, demonstrating his ability to score at all three levels in an inspired performance.

Hodge followed Brown’s personal scoring streak with his own 3-pointer, forcing Ryan Odom to take a timeout with his team trailing 62-53 at 5:25.

This did little to change the result that followed. Hodge hit another 3-pointer, this time a pull-up in transition. This extended the Tiger’s lead to eleven, their biggest of the match.

From there, Missouri froze the game from the free throw line, closing the door on Utah State’s season.

Utah State’s normally powerful perimeter offense fizzled in the opening minutes, as the Aggies started 0 for 6 from behind the arc. The Tigers didn’t fare much better from deep, but Brown and Noah Carter were able to get into the paint frequently and create scoring opportunities. The Aggies couldn’t physically match this duo, and it allowed Mizzou to take an 18-12 lead at 11:58.

Missouri’s defensive intensity remained high throughout the first half and forced Utah State to eight turnovers in the first period. Hodge’s first two interceptions and a pair of 3-pointers set the tone, and the Tigers held a comfortable lead for much of the half.

A 4:04 field goal drought for Missouri allowed the Aggies to close the deficit to 28-25 with 3:47 left in the half. Thanks to some late layups from Steve Ashworth, Utah State was able to stay within striking distance heading into halftime, trailing 35-31.

The Tigers managed to eliminate Utah State’s perimeter shot as the Aggies failed to hit a 3-pointer in one half for the first time this season. However, they scored 26 of their points in the paint and foul issues plagued Mizzou throughout the first half.

Carter led the way with 10 points and four rebounds in the opening period, and Brown was a perfect 3-on-3 from the field despite being hampered by two fouls he picked up early.

The Aggies seemed to find their way behind the arc in the opening minutes of the second half, with Ashworth and Taylor Funk each hitting a 3-pointer.

It seemed to trigger Utah State as a team. They took an early 36-35 halftime lead, and the Aggies put pressure on Mizzou and forced them to make unusual mistakes at both ends of the field. However, the Tigers were able to regain momentum from that point.

Missouri will now await the winner of No. 2 Arizona (28-6) and No. 15 Princeton (21-8). The match will take place on Saturday, with a time and channel yet to be determined.

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