Columbia, MO (Sports Network) - The 22nd-ranked Missouri Tigers will try to stay perfect at Mizzou Arena on Tuesday night, as they square off against the South Carolina Gamecocks in an SEC tilt.
Frank Martin's first season in Columbia can already be called a success for South Carolina, as the team has already surpassed last season's win total at 11-6. Things haven't been going so well for the Gamecocks in the SEC however, and following a 58-51 home loss to Vanderbilt on Saturday, they fell to 1-3 in league play.
Missouri has also run into trouble of late in conference action, as it has lost two of its last three on the road to Ole Miss (64-49), and most recently at nationally-ranked Florida on Saturday (83-52). The Tigers have never lost back-to-back games in two seasons under head coach Frank Haith however, and they are 10-0 on their home floor this season.
This bout marks the first-ever meeting between these newly-formed conference foes in men's basketball.
Against Vanderbilt's stout defense on Saturday, South Carolina had its worst offensive performance of the season, as it shot just 14-of-59 from the field (.237) and only managed 51 points thanks to a solid showing from the foul line (19-of-25). Brenton Williams was the only player to net double figures, pouring in 16 points, while Lakeem Jackson (10 rebounds) and Michael Carrera (eight points, nine rebounds) were sturdy in the frontcourt. The Gamecocks are used to much better offensive efforts, as they shoot 44.2 percent from the field for 71.8 ppg while also sporting an impressive +7.5 rebounding margin. Williams spends most of his time coming off the bench, but he still leads the way with 12.0 ppg thanks to 41.5 percent efficiency from 3-point range. Bruce Ellington (10.3 ppg), Carrera (10.2 ppg, 7.3 rpg) and Jackson (9.6 ppg, 7.4 rpg) are also consistently productive, but Martin ensures fresh legs for his squad by incorporating a deep rotation. Nine players average at least 4.1 ppg, and 11 have seen time in the starting lineup.
Much like South Carolina, Missouri too is coming off a disappointing shooting effort as it made only 32.7 percent of its field goal attempts (including 6- of-24 from 3-point range) in its 31-point loss to Florida. Jabari Brown's 5- of-18 showing from the field was a big reason for its struggles, but he still finished with a team-high 16 points. Keion Bell was a more impressive 5-of-6 en route to 14 points. Phil Pressey shot just 1-of-7 in the loss, and while he dished out six assists, he was plagued by an unsightly 10 turnovers. It was a rare performance for Pressey (12.2 ppg), who leads the SEC in assists with 7.1 per contest while committing fewer than four turnovers per game. The Tigers' typically rely on big production in the frontcourt from Laurence Bowers (16.8 ppg, 6.9 rpg), but he has missed the last three games with a sprained MCL. Without the 6-foot-8 senior, Mizzou will have to rely more on Brown (14.1 ppg) and Alex Oriakhi (10.0 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 1.6 bpg). As a team, Missouri nets 75.5 ppg due in large part to the SEC's top-ranked free throw percentage (.725) and rebounding margin (+9.1).