COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Missouri forward Ryan Rosburg is not lacking motivation.
As the lone senior on a team that self-imposed a post-season ban in the wake of a recruiting violations scandal, Rosburg knows the date of his final collegiate basketball game; a home game against Florida Mar. 5.
From glancing at Rosburg's stat line the last three games, it would appear he realizes his games are numbered. He scored 17 points in an 80-71 loss at Alabama Feb. 6 and had a career-high 24 points and 11 rebounds in an 86-71 loss at Vanderbilt Wednesday.
But Rosburg had another motivator Saturday as he scored 21 points and grabbed five rebounds, helping Missouri defeat Tennessee 75-64 and snap a nine-game losing streak.
Rhyan Loos, the 5-year old daughter of Missouri assistant coach Brad Loos, was diagnosed with neuroblastoma in October. Mizzou Arena played host to a "Rally for Rhyan" Saturday, offering free admission to the general public with a cash donation at the door. The event raised more than $50,000, which will be donated to pediatric cancer research.
"Today was awesome," said Rosburg, who also blocked two shots while shooting 8-for-9 from the field. "You could tell everyone had a little more pep in their step today and it was just an amazing environment. Just having the community rally around this little girl and our team, we appreciate it so much."
The Tigers (9-16, 2-10 Southeastern Conference) closed the game on a 7-0 run, which was capped with a breakaway dunk by Rosburg in front of the student section.
"I'm playing like I got nothing to lose," Rosburg said. "I don't want to have any regrets looking back. I want to give it my all and play my heart out every game I have left."
Despite committing nine turnovers in the first half, Missouri led 38-27 at halftime after closing on a 13-6 run. Kevin Puryear sank two free-throws with 5:25 seconds left in the first half, ending a five-and-a-half minute scoring drought in which in the Tigers committed seven turnovers. Puryear finished with 17 points and five rebounds.
"From the beginning, I don't think loosing was an option for us," Puryear said. "Today we were more determined than we've ever been. We love the Loos family and we really wanted to do that for (them)."
Kevin Punter Jr., whose 22.4 points per game ranks second in the SEC, had 21 points and three assists for Tennessee (12-13, 5-7), but shot just 5 of 13 from the field. Punter was 9 of 13 from the free-throw line and scored 14 in the second half, leading a late-game comeback effort.
"We talked about him being the key to their team," Missouri coach Kim Anderson said of Punter. "If you don't build a wall or corral him or something, he's going to take it all the way to the basket. I thought we did a pretty good job on him in the first half."
After trailing by as many as 14, the Volunteers used a 12-5 run to cut the deficit to four points with 1:25 seconds to play. On the ensuing play, Terrence Phillips secured an offensive board off his own miss, leading to a foul and a pair of free-throws by Namon Wright.
Wright scored seven of Missouri's first nine points, but had only one field goal in the second half. He finished with 13 points and five rebounds. Phillips had five points, five assists and a team-best seven rebounds.
"I think this is a meaningful day for a lot of reasons," Anderson said. "I just think they had a determination today, and certainly the beauty of the day probably figured into that. I'm really proud of the way we responded."
Tennessee coach Rick Barnes thought post play was the difference in the game.
"We tried to rest Kyle and during that time, that's really when Rosburg went to work on us," Barnes said. "When we got it down to a working number we missed key free-throws. We still had some chances, but we didn't make the winning plays and they did."
Missouri outrebounded the Volunteers 41-26 and outscored them 30-18 in the paint. The Tigers committed 20 turnovers to Tennessee's 10, leading to 13 points for the Volunteers.
Missouri shot 55 percent on a season-low 44 field goal attempts. It's the highest shooting percentage since the team's season-opening 83-74 victory over Wofford Nov. 13.
Tennessee: While their tallest player stands 6-foot-9, The Volunteers rank second in the SEC in offensive rebounding, averaging 13.5 per game. ...Punter owns the best field-goal percentage among guards in the SEC, shooting 46.9 percent on the season. ...Detrick Mostella snapped a 15-game streak of at least one made 3-pointer. He was 0-for-3 from 3-point range.
Missouri: The Tigers are now 9-0 when leading at halftime. ...Rosburg has scored 62 points in the last three games after averaging only 5.8 points per game on the season. ...Missouri leads the all-time series 6-5.
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
"You couldn't have scripted this day any better," Missouri assistant coach Brad Loos said. "I'm so thankful for everything that everybody has done. We've been crying a lot over the past four months, but today was tears of joy, and it was really special for us as a family."
Tennessee: Visits No. 22 Kentucky Friday.
Missouri: Hosts South Carolina Tuesday.
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