COLUMBIA — For the first time in a Southeastern Conference road game, the players on the Missouri bench had smiles on their faces as the game came to a close.
Point guard Phil Pressey and forward Alex Oriakhi were on the sideline smiling and cheering as reserve guard Corey Haith made a 3-pointer with 1:12 to go.
The Missouri men's basketball team finally won a conference game away from Mizzou Arena, routing Mississippi State 78-36 on Wednesday night at Humphrey Coliseum in Starkville, Miss.
The win was against the SEC's last-place team, a program with only six scholarship players that lost its ninth straight game. But the win against the Bulldogs is Missouri's first SEC road-game victory of the season. Missouri had been 0-5 on the road this season before Wednesday.
Missouri did everything coach Frank Haith said he thought was necessary to win a road game.
Missouri started fast and with energy. The Tigers opened with a 14-0 run and by halftime led 34-10.
Missouri attacked the paint, outscoring the Bulldogs 32-12 under the basket.
Tigers senior Keion Bell, who led all scorers with 24 points to tie a career high, constantly navigated past post players for high-flying layups.
"I think Keion in the last four, five ball games has been outstanding," Haith said in a radio interview after the game. "We love to see him coming along because it gives him a chance to spell Phil (Pressey) more, when he (Bell) can play the point some, too."
Missouri played defense.
The Bulldogs took more than nine minutes and 12 shot attempts to score their first basket, shooting only 23.9 percent for the game.
Oriakhi, who had 10 rebounds and two points, stayed out of foul trouble with only one.
Mississippi State (7-16, 2-9), which hasn't won since beating Georgia on Jan. 12, was led by Trivante Bloodman's 13 points.
Missouri improves to 18-6 overall and 7-4 in the SEC but cannot savor the win too long. On Saturday, the Tigers are set to play at Arkansas (15-9, 6-5 SEC), which is undefeated in SEC play at home this season and coached by former Tigers coach Mike Anderson.