Tennessee (21-1, 9-0 SEC) has the longest active winning streak of any Division I team. This latest victory also enabled Rick Barnes to match the longest winning streak of his 32-year head coaching career.
Barnes’ 2009-10 Texas team won its first 17 games before stumbling down the stretch to finish 24-10 with a first-round NCAA Tournament loss.
Jordan Bowden had 12 points and Jordan Bone added 11 for the Volunteers. Bone also had seven assists.
Javon Pickett scored 12 points, Jordan Geist had 11 and Xavier Pinson added 10 for Missouri, which lost for the fourth time in the last five games.
Missouri (11-10, 2-7) made five straight shots to take an early 17-13 lead and then missed 16 of its next 17 shots as Tennessee went on an 18-2 spurt.
After trailing by as many as 12 in the first half, Missouri chipped away and got Tennessee’s lead down to 39-35 after Jeremiah Tilmon’s tip-in with 18:29 left. Tennessee responded by scoring 11 straight points and stayed in front by at least eight points the rest of the way.
Tuesday’s game marked the return of Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin to Thompson-Boling Arena. Martin coached Tennessee to a 63-41 record from 2011-14 but never completely won over the fan base.
Martin left for California after leading the Vols to an NCAA regional semifinal appearance, turning down an offer of a raise and an extension. Although Martin had split two meetings with Tennessee since taking over Missouri’s program in 2017, neither of those games was in Knoxville.
Before the opening tip, a “Thank You Cuonzo: Welcome Back to Rocky Top” message appeared on the video board.
Missouri: Tilmon’s ability to stay on the floor and avoid foul trouble offers encouragement for the rest of the season. Tilmon played just nine minutes before fouling out of an 87-63 loss to Tennessee on Jan. 8. The 6-foot-10 forward had eight points, five rebounds and only two fouls in 27 minutes Tuesday. After struggling with foul trouble much of the season, Tilmon is averaging 14.3 points over his last four games.
Tennessee: The Vols’ bench got a boost from Yves Pons, who scored six points and had back-to-back baskets during Tennessee’s 18-2 run in the first half. Pons, who made 13 starts before moving to the bench on Jan. 26, had gone scoreless in the previous four games.
Missouri hosts Texas A&M on Saturday.
Tennessee hosts Florida on Saturday.