TAMPA, Florida - A quick start by the LSU Tigers allowed the team to get past the second round to the quarterfinals here Thursday at Amalie Arena in a 76-68 decision over the Missouri Tigers.
The fifth-seed Tigers will now face Arkansas Friday 25 minutes after the 11 a.m. CT opening game of the afternoon session between Auburn and Texas A&M. The game will be broadcast on the affiliates of the LSU Sports Radio Network (Guaranty Media flagship Eagle 98.1 in Baton Rouge) and televised on ESPN with Karl Ravech, Jimmy Dykes and Marty Smith on the call.
LSU is now 22-10 and has won six-of-its-last-nine games. LSU had five players in double figures with SEC Sixth Man of the Year Tari Eason scoring 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the field. Darius Days hit 6-of-11 field goals with three steals to record 16 points. Efton Reid made all six field goal attempts in scoring 12 points while Xavier Pinson had 11 points (5 assists, 3 steals) as did Eric Gaines.
Brandon Murray scored seven points but contributed nine assists.
DaJuan Gordon had 19 points with four treys to lead Missouri (12-21) while Trevon Brazile had 15 points and Javon Pickett 14.
The start was what got LSU the win as Pinson and Days scored LSU's first four points. After a Missouri bucket, Pinson had two free throws and a three-pointer that made it 9-2, forcing a Mizzou timeout. Days then hit a trey to push it to 12-2.
An 11-0 run by LSU made it 27-6 on a Reid dunk with 9:04 to play in the first half. The lead would reach as much as 25 in the first half before LSU went to the dressing room, up 39-23.
LSU made 13-of-26 field goals in the first half, including five treys, while Missouri was 9-of-25 (36.0%) and 3-of-11 from the arc.
Missouri cut the lead to 10, at 43-33, 3:30 into the second half, but LSU would virtually put the game away on an 14-1 run which put LSU up 59-36 with 8:25 to play.
The Tigers did not finish very crisply as Missouri forced several turnovers late that resulted in points, cutting it to the final margin.
LSU with all the turnovers, did well when it did shoot the ball, making 15-of-24 from the field in the second half (62.5%) with seven of those misses coming from the arc. Missouri shot 14-of-30 from the field (46.7%) in the second half.
For the game, LSU was 28-of-50 (56.0%) overall and 5-of-19 from the arc. LSU made 15-of-18 free throws. Missouri finished 23-of-55 (41.8%) with seven treys.
Missouri out rebounded LSU, 32-24.
LSU and Arkansas met twice earlier in the season with the Razorbacks rallying from eight down to defeat LSU, 70-67, back on Jan. 15, in Baton Rouge. Arkansas was able to also get a 77-76 win at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville on March 2.