Columbia, MO (Sports Network) - Meeting for only the second time ever, new SEC foes Ole Miss and Missouri square off at Mizzou Arena on Saturday afternoon.
The two teams had their inaugural encounter back on Jan. 12, and that game went to Ole Miss in a 64-49 final on Missouri's home floor.
Despite their 18-4 overall mark and 7-2 league ledger, the Rebels are the unranked team in this matchup, while the Tigers come in sporting the nation's No. 21 ranking despite losing nearly as many SEC bouts as it has won (5-4).
Ole Miss, which had been among the nationally-ranked earlier in the campaign, put the brakes on a brief two-game slide by sending bitter rival Mississippi State packing with a 93-75 decision in Oxford on Wednesday night. The Rebels are enjoying their best nine-game start to conference play since the 1937-38 season, and they are off to their best 22-game start since 2000-01.
Missouri suffered a 70-68 loss at Texas A&M, the other new member of the SEC this season, on Thursday night to fall to 0-5 in true road games. the Tigers haven't been able to string together more than two wins in a row since a six- game run from Nov. 24 to Dec. 22. Mizzou is 13-0 at home this season, and an incredible 80-4 in its own arena dating back to 2008-09.
Ole Miss is the SEC's top scoring team, putting up just shy of 80 ppg (79.9), and the Rebels are fortunate to have the league's leading scorer wearing their uniform. Marshall Henderson has used his 3-point shooting prowess (.366) to average 20.0 ppg, and he has significantly more long-range makes (89) than his closest teammate has attempts (64). Murphy Holloway is averaging a double- double consisting of 15.0 points and a league-leading 10.0 rebounds per outing, while three others net between 8.9 and 9.7 ppg, with Reginald Buckner not only being one of them but also grabbing 7.7 rpg while blocking 2.8 shots per tilt to rank second in the conference in that department. Henderson and Holloway had field days in the recent rout of Mississippi State, scoring 31 and 24 points, respectively, the Rebels as a team shooting 50.8 percent from the floor and 27-of-36 from the foul line. By comparison, the Bulldogs were 43.1 percent accurate on their field goal attempts, and missed 18 of their 23 3-point tries along the way. They were also guilty of 17 turnovers. Buckner finished with 12 points, seven rebounds and five blocks in the victory.
Missouri hasn't had difficulty putting points on the board either, averaging 76 ppg to rank fourth in the SEC. The Tigers are the league's top free-throw shooting team (.740), while ranking fourth in field goal percentage (.447). They lead the conference in rebounding margin (+9.2), and boast two of its top-14 glass cleaners in Alex Oriakhi (8.2 rpg) and Laurence Bowers (6.6 rpg). Bowers averages 15.5 ppg in leading a total of six double-digit scorers, and one of them, Phil Pressey, serves as the SEC's top assist man with 155 (7.0 apg). Oriakhi scored 15 points and grabbed eight rebounds, but a cold-shooting second half proved to be disastrous in Mizzou's recent bout at Texas A&M, the team dropping a tough two-point decision. The Tigers shot 55 percent from the field in the opening frame, but only 38.5 percent after the break, while the Aggies finished the game at 50 percent both from the floor overall (28-of-56) and from 3-point range (6-of-12). Missouri was guilty of 16 turnovers, and was really only in the contest because of its 22-of-24 effort at the free-throw line. The Aggies went 8-of-12 at the stripe.