Missouri men's basketball team cruises past South Carolina

Thursday, February 28, 2013 | 10:02 p.m. CST; updated 11:35 p.m. CST, Thursday, February 28, 2013
Missouri's Keion Bell drives for the basket as South Carolina's Damien Leonard and Mindaugas Kacinas defend during the first half of their NCAA college basketball game, Thursday in Columbia, S.C.

It was a night of quick starts for the Missouri men's basketball team.

Missouri coach Frank Haith won his 50th game with the Tigers in Thursday night's 90-68 victory at South Carolina. Haith is the quickest coach in the program to have reached the mark.

Haith reached his 50th win in 63 games surpassing former Missouri coach George Edwards, who reached 50 wins in 79 games. Edwards coached from 1926-1946.

Missouri's hot start in the game helped Haith achieve the milestone.

Tigers guard Keion Bell scored 18 in the first half, and 24 on the night, constantly finding holes in the Gamecock's defense. Guard Negus Webster-Chan found Bell for a dunk with a long lob from behind the 3-point line in the first half.

"Keion's been playing great," Haith said in a postgame radio interview. "I think he understands where he can score from. I think earlier in the year he did not know."

Missouri guard Jabari Brown had 23 points on the night, making 8-of-10 field goals, two of them 3-pointers.

Haith anticipated a physical game from the Gamecocks and was right. Guard Earnest Ross suffered a bloody nose fighting for a rebound early in the game.

Forward Laurence Bowers sent guard Bruce Ellington, a wide receiver for South Carolina's football team, falling to the floor on a hard illegal screen in the first half.

Missouri muscled past South Carolina's aggressiveness though. Missouri forward Alex Oriakhi constantly found the basket, scoring 18, making all six of his shots and all six of his free throws.

"I think he got some easy buckets because of our ability to share the ball," Haith said.

Missouri point guard Phil Pressey did not score but had nine assists.

Second-half runs helped widen Missouri's lead. Missouri went on a 12-2 run early in the second half, and then went on a 10-0 run a few minutes later.

Missouri's road win in Southeastern Conference play brings the Tigers to 20-8 overall and 9-6 in the conference. Missouri returns to Mizzou Arena on Saturday afternoon to play LSU.

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