GAME NOTES: The Missouri Tigers put their perfect record on the line, as they play host to the Jaguars of IUPUI on Monday night.
This game is part of the Las Vegas Invitational, with both teams heading to Sin City for a pair of bouts later this week.
It's been a struggle for the Jaguars to open the season, as they have won only one of their first five games, that lone triumph coming against IU Northwest on Nov. 19, 88-53. The team was most recently in action last Friday, falling in a tough 63-61 final at Northwestern.
Missouri has streaked out to a 4-0 start to the season, following victories over SE Louisiana (89-53), Southern Illinois (72-59), Hawaii (92-80) and Gardner-Webb (72-63). The Tigers are looking forward to making some serious noise in the SEC this season, and non-conference bouts against West Virginia, UCLA and Illinois should serve the team well as it prepares for the league opener at home versus Georgia on Jan. 8, 2014.
This bout marks the first-ever meeting between these two schools on the hardwood.
IUPUI has put forth a decent offensive effort here in the early going, netting 72.2 ppg in hitting 46.2 percent of its field goal attempts, although that includes a mere 28.4 percent showing from 3-point range. Defensively, the Jaguars are permitting 70.0 ppg, with foes knocking down just 40.9 percent of their total shots, and 30.8 percent of their long-range launches. Ian Chiles paces the unit with his 19.2 ppg, while Mitch Patton and Khufu Najee tally 16.8 and 13.0 ppg, respectively. Patton grabs 7.3 rpg, while Marcellus Barksdale is just a tab better at 7.4 rpg, and he has a team-high 11 blocks as well as 21 assists.
Chiles hit for 19 points and Patton tallied 18 in the recent loss to Northwestern, as the team made good on 51.1 percent of its field goal attempts. Donovan Gibbs and Najee chipped in with 11 points apiece.
Jabari Brown and Jordan Clarkson are both averaging 18.0 ppg, helping the Tigers net 81.2 ppg behind typical shooting outputs of .504 overall and .373 from beyond the arc, while the team also owns a significant advantage in rebounding margin (+13.0). Missouri's play at the defensive end has been solid (63.8 ppg allowed), although it can be argued that the team hasn't faced an opponent capable of causing it much stress.
Earnest Ross, who rounds out the unit's double-digit scorers at 13.0 ppg, was high man in the recent win over Gardner-Webb, scoring 17 points, while Clarkson turned in 14 and Brown 13 for a Mizzou club that really struggled from long range (2-of-14). Fortunately, the Tigers dominated in close to the basket, outscoring GWU in the paint (46-18) while laying claim to a 46-29 rebounding advantage. Additionally, they held the Bulldogs to just 33.9 percent efficiency from the field.
Despite it's rough start, IUPUI isn't totally devoid of talent. Still, the Jags are likely to come up small against a Missouri club that should only get better as the season moves along.
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