Columbia, MO (Sports Network) - The Missouri Tigers' undefeated home record is
in serious jeopardy, as the first-place Florida Gators pull into Mizzou Arena
for an SEC showdown.
Since suffering an 80-69 loss at Arkansas on Feb. 5, Florida has responded
well with three consecutive victories, its most recent triumph coming at
Auburn in convincing fashion on Saturday afternoon, 83-52. The Gators continue
to prove that they are one of the nation's elite teams, as they sit at 21-3
overall and 11-1 in the SEC, and the team currently holds the No. 5 spot in
this week's AP Poll.
After spending most of the first three months of the season ranked in the
Top-25, Missouri has fallen from that lofty perch by performing rather
modestly in recent weeks, as it is just 6-5 in its last 11 games. The Tigers
dropped a tough road game at Arkansas on Saturday to dip to 18-7 on the season
(7-5 SEC), but they will surely be eager to return home for this matchup, as
they have yet to lose in 14 contests at Mizzou Arena.
These two teams met for the first time ever on Jan. 19 in Gainesville, with
Florida winning in convincing fashion, 83-52.
Florida ran out to a commanding 47-22 lead at intermission against Auburn over
the weekend, which was more than enough to propel it to the easy 31-point
victory. The Gators were fantastic at both ends of the floor, making better
than 57 percent of their field goal attempts while holding the Tigers to a
mere 35.2 percent. Mike Rosario led all scorers with 22 points, and Michael
Frazier drained six of the teams 15 3-pointers to finish with 18 points. Kenny
Boynton netted 16 points, Erik Murphy had 11, and Scottie Wilbekin tallied 10
assists and three steals. The well-rounded effort was nothing new for a
Florida team that not only does shoots just shy of 50 percent from the field
for 74.3 ppg, but has one of the elite defenses in the nation in yielding a
scant 52.6 ppg. Boynton leads the way with 13.0 ppg, although he is having a
rather modest season from the field overall (.411), as well as 3-point range
(.342). Rosario scores 12.9 ppg, while Murphy shoots 50 percent from beyond
the arc (52-of-104) for his 12.7 ppg. Patric Young is a force in the paint
(10.5 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 1.8 bpg), and Wilbekin (9.4 ppg) has handed out 120
assists (5.5 pg) compared to only 46 turnovers.
After leading by four points with just 34 seconds left in its game versus
Arkansas on Saturday, Missouri fell victim to a late rally by the Razorbacks
as it was saddled with the heartbreaking two-point setback. The Tigers did not
help themselves at the offensive end, as they shot less than 40 percent from
the field (including 2-of-14 from 3-point range) and committed 17 turnovers.
One player who had no problem filling up the basket was Keion Bell, who shot
9-of-11 from the floor and 7-of-8 from the foul line for 25 points before
fouling out. Earnest Ross tallied 16 points and nine rebounds off the bench,
and Alex Oriakhi corralled 11 rebounds. It wasn't the typical afternoon for
Missouri, which drains 45 percent of its field goal attempts on the season for
76.5 ppg, second-most in the SEC. It also benefits from an outstanding +10.1
rebounding margin thanks to sound play from forwards Oriakhi (10.6 ppg, 8.8
rpg, 1.6 bpg), Ross (10.5 ppg, 5.3 rpg) and Laurence Bowers (14.1 ppg, 6.0
rpg, 1.1 bpg). Jabari Brown is the top scoring threat with 14.6 ppg, and Phil
Pressey nets 12.0 ppg and hands out 6.8 apg, but neither shoot greater than 40
percent from the field. Bell rounds out the deep scoring bunch with 11.7 ppg.
The Sports Network