D’Moi Hodge scored 23 points and had four steals Thursday as No. 7 seed Missouri defeated 10th-seeded Utah State 76-65 in a first-round South Regional game of the NCAA Tournament in Sacramento, Calif.
Kobe Brown scored 19 points and grabbed eight rebounds for the Tigers (25-9), who won their first NCAA tournament game since 2010.
“It was definitely emotional. I was trying to hold back some tears,” Brown said afterward. “It was a lot of our’s dreams to win a game in the NCAA Tournament, really to be here. A lot of guys haven’t been here before. A couple of us have, but we lost in the first round. To get past the first round is surreal for us.”
DeAndre Gholston scored 11 points and Noah Carter added 10 for Missouri, who will play the No. 15 seed Princeton — who later shocked No. 2 Arizona — in the second round on Saturday.
Taylor Funk led the Aggies (26-9) with 16 points and seven rebounds. Dan Akin and Steve Ashworth scored 12 points each and Sean Bairstow added 10.
Missouri held Utah State to 4-for-24 shooting from 3-point range and forced the Aggies into 15 turnovers.
The Tigers broke out to a 14-6 lead, with Hodge and Carter scoring five points each, and they remained in front for the rest of the first half.
Utah State turned the ball over six times in the first six minutes and struggled to get into its offensive rhythm.
But with its aggressive pressure defense, Missouri got in early foul trouble and eventually lost its lead. Brown drew two early calls and played just 14 minutes in the first half.
Even though the Aggies missed all 11 of their shots from 3-point range in the first half, they pulled within two points with 2:06 left in the half and trailed just 35-31 at the break.
Utah State found first-half success driving to the basket, including two late layups by Ashworth.
The Aggies scored the first five points of the second half to take a 36-35 lead. Ashworth fueled the comeback by intercepting a pass at midcourt and sinking Utah State’s first 3-point basket of the game.
After two Akin dunks kept Utah State ahead at 49-47, Brown stabilized the Tigers by outscoring the Aggies 12-4 with a one-man run.
Hodge scored two 3-point jumpers and a dunk as Missouri pushed out to 67-56 lead with 3:55 remaining. The Aggies got no closer than eight points after that.
–Field Level Media