NASHVILLE - The Mizzou women's basketball team flew more than 400 miles to reach a goal it had not done since joining the SEC.
The Tigers defeated Ole Miss 59-50 for Mizzou's first ever SEC tournament win.
400 miles is about how far the Tiger program has come under Robin Pingeton since joining the SEC as Mizzou has back-to-back 11 conference-win seasons for the first time since 1985.
With the victory, the Tigers will advance to face third-seeded Georgia. Mizzou lost the only meeting of the season against the Bulldogs on Jan. 25, 62-50.
Amber Smith led the way against Ole Miss with 16 points, five assists and nine rebounds.
Sophie Cunningham finished with 11 points despite a season-low five shot attempts. All of her points came in the second half as she was 0-1 in the opening 20 minutes.
The Tigers shot 49 percent from the field and 36 percent from three while holding Ole Miss to just 28 percent shooting from the field.Mizzou was eager to not let past SEC tournament slow starts be the story again this year.
The Tigers jumped out on an 8-2 run to start the game and were effective working the ball inside to Cierra Porter and Jordan Frericks. Both scored on the run and forced forward Bree Glover to pick up two quick fouls. Ole Miss battled back out of the timeout to tie the game at 10 with under five minutes remaining in the first quarter.
Mizzou regained the lead in the first quarter but struggled offensively giving up seven turnovers, and Sophie Cunningham did not attempt a shot. The Tigers led 18-14 at the end of the first quarter.
Mizzou stretched its lead to seven after Jordan Chavis nailed a three from the left-hand side. The Tigers led 23-14 with 6:34 left in the second quarter despite Cunningham still being held without a shot attempt.
Despite Cunningham being held scoreless in the first half and an 8-0 run by the Rebels to end the second quarter, Mizzou led 28-26 at half. Mizzou also coughed up 11 first-half turnovers.
The Tigers shot just 33 percent from the field in the first half but were able to hold Ole Miss to 31 percent shooting.
After halftime adjustments, Cunningham scored her first points of the game to help Mizzou take a 33-26 lead with 8:14 left in the third quarter.
The Tigers shot just four free throws in the first half, but Mizzou attacked the rim instead of settling for jump shots in the second half. The Tigers got to the line for 20 free throws in the second half as they extended their lead to 41-30 at the end of the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, Mizzou piled on the scoring and never looked back to end its SEC tournament drought.
The Tigers will face Georgia Friday around 8-8:30 p.m in hopes of advancing to the conference semifinals on Saturday.