GAME NOTES: The Missouri Tigers will try once again to secure their first road win of the season, as they tangle with the Mississippi State Bulldogs in SEC action at Humphrey Coliseum on Wednesday night.
Missouri has been two different teams this season, one that has won all 14 of its home games, and another that has lost all five of its true road tests. Despite the disparity, the Tigers own an impressive 17-6 overall record, and they are 6-4 in their first foray in SEC play. Mizzou was among the nationally-ranked as recently as last week, but a narrow loss at Texas A&M coupled with a blowout win over another former ranked team in Ole Miss saw the squad get bounced from this week's poll.
Mississippi State has been absolutely dreadful this season, logging a 7-15 overall record, which includes a 2-8 league ledger (last place). The Bulldogs are in the midst of an eight-game losing streak, with their most recent setback occurring at first-place Florida this past Saturday, 83-58. MSU has lost its last four home games, dropping its mark in Starkville to an even 5-5.
Missouri has won two of the previous three matchups in the series with Mississippi State, but it was the Bulldogs who won the most recent -- 87-75 on Dec. 30, 2007 in Starkville.
A total of three guys hit for more than 20 points in leading Missouri to its rout of Ole Miss over the weekend, the team making good on 12-of-23 3-point attempts and claiming a resounding 50-32 rebounding advantage. Alex Oriakhi and Phil Pressey each hit for 22 points, the former also coming up with a massive 18 rebounds to go with three blocks, while Keion Bell hit for 21 points, the team as a whole shooting 47.3 percent from the field overall and converting 16-of-20 free throws. Jabari Brown tacked on 14 points for Mizzou, which as a result of the 98-point outburst saw its season scoring average climb to 76.7 ppg. Defensively, the team typically allows 67.0 ppg, and it also lays claim to an SEC-best +9.4 rebounding margin. Laurence Bowers (14.9 ppg, 6.2 rgp) paces the team in scoring, but Brown (14.7 ppg, 4.1 rpg) is hot on his heels. Pressy is netting 12.6 ppg, but his true worth comes as a result of his SEC-leading 159 assists (6.9 per game). Bowers (.565) is the league's top shooter among players who have enough attempts to qualify, and Bell (.883) is its best free-throw shooter. Missouri is the conference's second-highest scoring team (76.7 ppg), and it leads the league in free-throw percentage (.751).
As productive as Missouri has been, the exact opposite is true of Mississippi State, the team averaging just 61.5 ppg in shooting a league-low 41.0 percent from the field. The Bulldogs also rank last in the conference in assists (10.2 apg), while moving up only one spot in rebounding margin (-2.0). They also sit last in assist-to-turnover ratio (0.6), and as a result of all the negativity, the team has just one double-digit scorer in the form of Fred Thomas (10.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 38 steals). Four others net between 9.0 and 9.8 ppg, in part giving the Bulldogs a balanced, if anemic offensive attack. Gavin Ware was high man for MSU in its recent loss to Florida, scoring 16 points behind an impressive 7-of-11 shooting effort, and he was joined in double digits by Colin Borchert (14 points) and Trivante Bloodman (10 points). The Bulldogs had 42.6 percent of their total shots find the bottom of the net, while the Gators turned the trick at 52.5 percent. Mississippi State turned the ball over twice as may times as did Florida (16-8), which wound up with five players scoring in excess of 10 points in the game.
Missouri is none-too-pleased to be on the outside looking in at this week's Top-25, so it's certainly reasonable to expect that the Tigers will finally notch their first road win of the campaign against one of the SEC's worst teams.
Game Date and Time