South Carolina State (4-6) at (12) Missouri (8-1)
Monday, December 17, 8 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Frank Haynes, Senior College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Mizzou Arena (15,061) -- Columbia, Missouri. Television: MSN. Home Record: SCSU 3-3, UM 6-0. Away Record: SCSU 1-3, UM 0-0. Neutral Record: SCSU 0-0, UM 2-1. Conference Record: SCSU 0-1, UM 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The Missouri Tigers go in search of their fifth straight win as they entertain the Bulldogs of South Carolina State in non-conference action on Monday night.
South Carolina State comes in two games under .500 (4-6), and hoping to put the brakes on a three-game losing streak. The Bulldogs were most recently in action against Albany five days ago, and dropped a 70-61 decision which was their second of the season to the Great Danes (83-55 on Nov. 20). SCSU is in the midst of a eight-game road trip, with its next home date slated for Jan. 19 versus league foe Bethune-Cookman. The Bulldogs opened Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference play on Dec. 3 with a 78-72 loss to Norfolk State.
Missouri is an impressive 8-1 on the season, with its lone loss coming versus nationally-ranked Louisville (84-61) in the Battle 4 Atlantis event back on Nov. 23. The Tigers, who have yet to play a true road game, are coming off a 68-38 win over Tennessee State on Dec. 8 -- their best defensive effort of the season. Mizzou has won 71 straight home games against non-league foes, and 30 of its last 31 against non-conference competition regardless of the venue. Overall, the Tigers are 73-4 at Mizzou Arena since 2008-09. A victory here would make the team 9-1 or better for the third straight year, and the fourth time in the last five.
This bout marks the first meeting between these two schools in men's basketball.
Despite their lackluster record, the Bulldogs have done a decent job in draining long-range shots, doing so at a 38.5 percent clip. Their overall shooting effort stands at 43.6 percent, leading to a scoring average of 68.0 ppg. Defensively, SC State yields 70.5 ppg while holding the opposition to lower shooting percentages than it puts forth (.425 overall, .346 3-point). The Bulldogs are being outrebounded by two caroms per contest, and the team features three double-digit scorers led by senior guard Khalif Toombs. A 51.4 percent shooter from beyond the arc, Toombs averages 14.1 ppg while also handing out 4.9 apg. Backcourt mate Adama Adams is close behind with 14.0 points and 3.5 assists per outing, while up front Matthew Hezekiah contributes 12.2 points and 8.0 rebounds per game. Hezekiah scored 18 points and grabbed eight boards, but his effort went for naught as the Bulldogs dropped a nine- point decision to Albany last week. Chasen Campbell was the only other SCSU player to reach double figures in the scoring column by nailing 3-of-5 3-point attempts to net 11 points, doing so in just 11 minutes of action off the bench. The Bulldogs hit eight treys in all, but the Great Danes tallied 10 triples while laying claim to an 18-3 advantage in points from the foul line.
With wins in eight of their first nine games, it's not surprising to see the Tigers excelling at both ends of the court. Despite rather vanilla shooting efforts (.440 overall, .351 3-point), Missouri averages a healthy 75.1 ppg while logging a significant advantage on the boards (+13.2). Opponents are netting just 61.7 ppg behind typical shooting outputs of 36.7 percent overall and 32.6 percent from beyond the arc. Laurence Bowers leads the team in scoring (16.9 ppg) while ranking second in rebounding (6.9 rpg). Phil Pressey (13.0 ppg, 5.8 apg, 3.4 rpg, 17 steals) has been productive in nearly all aspects of the game, and Alex Oriakhi scores 10.8 ppg while heading the team's rebounding effort with 8.3 rpg. Bowers (18 points, 10 rebounds) and Oriakhi (15 points, 10 rebounds) both logged double-doubles in the recent rout of Tennessee State, while Stefan Jankovic came off the bench to chip in 14 points. UM committed an unsightly 19 turnovers and was just 5-of-19 from 3- points range, but held its overmatched opponent to 23.8 percent field goal efficiency, which included a 6-of-24 showing from 3-point land. Missouri nearly doubled TSU in rebounds (52-27).
Missouri may run into some trouble after this contest, as it faces Illinois and UCLA next, but the Tigers are clearly superior to the Bulldogs and it shouldn't take long for them to establish their dominance.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Missouri 79, South Carolina State 57
12/17 10:37:22 ET