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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 28, 8 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: PNC Arena (19,557) -- Raleigh, North Carolina. Television: ESPN2. Home Record: Missouri 7-0, NC State 8-1. Away Record: Missouri 0-0, NC State 1-1. Neutral Record: Missouri 3-1, NC State 0-0. Conference Record: Missouri 0-0, NC State 0-0. Series Record: NC State leads, 2-1.
GAME NOTES: The 25th-ranked Missouri Tigers play their first true road game of the season, as they close out the 2013 portion of their season with a tough matchup against the NC State Wolfpack at PNC Arena.
Frank Haith's Tigers are off to a fast start, earning a spot in the Top 25 with wins in 10 of their first 11 games. That lone loss however, came last time out, as the team fell to Illinois in a rivalry game in St. Louis on Dec. 21, 65-64.
Mark Gottfried's Wolfpack have also started the season strong. NC State is an impressive 9-2 on the year and brings a seven-game win streak into this contest. The team was also last in action on Dec. 21, posting a 90-79 win over East Carolina.
NC State has won two of the three all-time meetings with Missouri.
A normally proficient offensive team, Missouri struggled in that regard against Illinois last time out, shooting .449 from the floor overall. The loss ruined a strong performance by guard Jordan Clarkson, who erupted for 25 points, while doling out eight assists. He was joined in double figures by fellow guards Earnest Ross and Jabari Brown, who finished with 13 and 10 points, respectively.
The numbers have been much stronger on the season, with Missouri entering this contest averaging 77.6 ppg on a healthy .493 shooting. The team has also controlled the boards, holding a +9.5 rebounding margin to date. Clarkson and Brown are leading the charge at the offensive end, as one of the SEC's most potent duos. Clarkson is shooting a sizzling .516 from the floor and netting 19.9 ppg. Brown is a close second with 18.2 ppg and tops the team from behind the arc (30-of-71). Ross rounds out a potent three-guard set with his 14.1 ppg. The scoring pool dries up quickly after that, as forward Johnathan Williams is fourth on the roster at just 6.5 ppg, although he does dominate on the glass, grabbing 8.1 rebounds per game.
NC State shot 58.2 percent from the floor against East Carolina, holding the Pirates at arm's length with a scorching .633 effort in the second half. T.J. Warren was magnificent in the victory, posting a career-high 32 points on 14- of-23 shooting. Jordan Vandenberg poured in 18 points, while Anthony Barber finished with 16 points and eight assists. Even the bench got involved, as Ralston Turner chipped in with 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting.
A strong offensive team in its own right, NC State enters this contest averaging 77.0 ppg on just under 50 percent shooting (.497). Warren is the star of the team, pacing the Wolfpack in scoring (23.9 ppg), rebounding (7.3 rpg) and steals (19). Barber (12.4 ppg) and Desmond Lee (10.3 ppg) are also in double-figure scoring, while Turner (9.5 ppg) is just under that mark.
The Tigers have yet to prove themselves on the road. They will be sorely tested in Raleigh, as the hometown crowd should energize Warren and company, en route to a marquee victory for the Wolfpack.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: NC State 76, Missouri 72
12/28 10:46:51 ET
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