With Alabama waiting in the shadows after beating Mississippi State, Missouri, and Tennessee would have to battle in the afternoon game of session four of the 2023 Southeastern Conference Tournament. Following Tennessee’s win on Thursday over Ole Miss, chatter started to make its rounds. The excitement surrounding the matchup between Missouri and the Volunteers started to mount. Everyone knew that Missouri and Tennessee would be a crazed SEC Tournament game.
With Volunteer Nation behind them, Bridgestone felt like a home game for the Tennessee Volunteers. There were times throughout the matchup when Bridgestone Arena sounded like Thompson Boiling Arena. Rocky Top blared on several occasions from the Pride Of The Southland Band. However, Missouri played Tigers Basketball and kept Head Coach Rick Barnes and his Volunteers from developing a lead.
In the first half, Missouri and Tennessee seemed destined to remain deadlocked. Jahmai Mashack nailed a three as time expired to give the Volunteers a 33-30 lead over Missouri at the break.
In the second half, Missouri and Tennessee went back and forth with little wiggle room between the two. Without question, you could cut the tension inside Bridgestone Arena. Nick Honor for Missouri nailed a step-back three-pointer with 1:46 remaining in the game, giving the Tigers a 72-69 lead over the Volunteers. D’moi Hodge followed the three from Honor with a three of his own to extend Missouri’s lead to 75-71 with 1:25 in the game.
Behind those three-pointers, Missouri would eke out a 79-71 win over the Tennessee Volunteers. With the win over Tennessee, Missouri advanced to a school’s first SEC Tournament Semi-final, where they will take on the mighty Crimson Tide of Alabama. Missouri and Arkansas met once this season in Columbia, Missouri. Alabama dominated the Tigers in the first meeting this season 85-64. However, Missouri is a different team in March than midway through January.
Fans can expect Saturday’s matchup between the Crimson Tide and Tigers to be an explosive battle between two heavy-weight Southeastern Conference teams.
Missouri and Alabama will be the first game on Saturday, with a noon tip at Bridgestone Arena. The winner will play in the 2023 SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament Championship game on Sunday.