SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Missouri used a second-half scoring spurt from Kobe Brown to win its first NCAA Tournament game in 13 years, beating Utah State 76-65 on Thursday.
Brown hit three triples in a span of just over three minutes, fueling a 13-2 run which turned a two-point deficit into a 62-53 lead at the Golden 1 Center.
"He's our MVP. I can tell you that," Whitten Family Men's Basketball Head Coach Dennis Gates said. "Ultimately when he started making some shots in that second half, he immediately made eye contact. He said he's here. I said, 'Yes, you are. We can see.'"
The seventh-seeded Tigers (25-9), who last won an NCAA Tournament game 4,745 days ago over Clemson in 2010, outscored 10th-seeded Utah State (26-9) 27-14 over the final 9:24 to hit the 25-win plateau for the first time in 11 years.
The 11-point win is Missouri's largest margin of victory in the NCAA Tournament since beating Memphis by 11 in the 2009 Sweet 16. The Tigers are 23-0 on the season when eclipsing 70 points.
The game was close for most of the second half until Brown and D'Moi Hodge took over midway through the frame, scoring 20 straight points for the Tigers.
"We don't blink," Brown said. "We felt them getting the momentum, but we couldn't show that. If we would have showed that, things would have went a lot different."
Brown started the stretch with a dunk, followed by three straight 3s. Hodge stepped in from there by hitting twice from long range around a dunk of his own. Hodge scored 23 points for the Tigers. Brown had 19.
Mizzou took a 35-31 lead into the locker room following a dunk by Noah Carter with 30 ticks left in the first half. The Tigers led by as many as eight at 16-8 with 13:05 remaining. Carter had 10 points and four boards in the half while Hodge poured in eight and Kobe Brown scored six, grabbed four boards, dished two assists and blocked a shot.
The Tigers forced eight turnovers and held Utah State, one of the top-shooting teams in the country, to an 0-for-11 number from behind the arc. The Aggies had hit an opening-half three in each of the previous 34 games this season.
Utah State has dropped its last 10 tournament games since beating Ohio State in the first round in 2001. The loss was also the 11th straight for a Mountain West team in the NCAAs.
Mizzou advances to the second round of the South Region and will play the winner of the Arizona-Princeton game on Saturday.