Texas A&M (18-14) vs. Missouri (22-9)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, March 14, 10 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Bridgestone Arena (20,000) -- Nashville, Tennessee. Television: SEC Network, ESPN3.com. Home Record: TAMU 12-6, MU 17-0. Away Record: TAMU 4-6, MU 2-8. Neutral Record: TAMU 2-2, MU 3-1. Conference Record: TAMU 7-11, MU 11-7. Series Record: Missouri leads, 13-11.
GAME NOTES: A pair of SEC newcomers meet in the second round of the conference tournament at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville on Thursday night, as the 11th- seeded Texas A&M Aggies tangle with the sixth-seeded Missouri Tigers.
The winner will advance to Friday's quarterfinals to face off against third- seeded Ole Miss.
Texas A&M opened up the tournament with a 71-62 triumph over 14th-seeded Auburn in the first round on Wednesday night. Although the win improved the Aggies' overall record to a solid 18-14, it was just their second win in the last six contests.
Despite missing out on a crucial double-bye in this tournament, Missouri has pieced together a strong campaign, going 11-7 in the SEC and sitting with a 22-9 mark overall, and with signature wins over Florida, VCU and Illinois, it seems like a safe bet to land in the field of 68 for the NCAA Tournament. After winning three in a row, the Tigers dropped their regular-season finale at Tennessee last Saturday, 64-62.
These former Big 12 foes have met 24 times before, with Missouri holding a slim 13-11 advantage. The Tigers won the lone meeting this season, 70-68, in College Station.
The Aggies got out to a seven-point lead at the half against Auburn in the first round, and while the Tigers came back to tie the game midway through the second have, Texas A&M never allowed them to overtake the lead down the stretch as they held on for the nine-point victory. Elston Turner missed the final game of the regular season with an injury, but he returned to action and picked right back up with his strong play, pouring in 22 points while draining all eight of his free-throw attempts. Alex Caruso scored 14 points and dished out six assists in the win, while Kourtney Roberson and Fabyon Harris each netted 11 points. On the season, TAMU has shown promise thanks to its stellar defense, which allows just 62.1 ppg, but it has struggled to break free from mediocrity due its struggling offense (64.1 ppg). Elston Turner is the SEC's third-leading scorer, pouring in 17.8 ppg, and Harris is a decent second option with 11.9 ppg. Ray Turner (9.3 ppg, 6.4 rpg) and Roberson (7.0 ppg, 6.6 rpg) are both solid in the paint with field goal percentages greater than .520.
Missouri led for most of its latest game, including by eight midway through the second half, but it saw that lead evaporate following a 12-3 run by Tennessee and it could never recover. Although it outshot the Vols from the field, 41.4 percent to 36.7 percent, Mizzou lost possessions by getting outrebounded, 45-32. Laurence Bowers led the way for the Tigers with 20 points, his third straight game with 20 or more points, while Phil Pressey added 10 points and nine assists. The lackluster offensive attack was far from what the Tigers are used to, as they shoot greater than 46 percent from the floor this season for 77.2 ppg. Bowers (14.8 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 1.2 bpg) and Alex Oriakhi (10.9 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 1.6 bpg) make up one of the best frontcourt duos in the nation, while Pressey (11.9 ppg) makes up for a poor field goal percentage (.381) by handing out an SEC-best 7.1 apg. Jabari Brown (14.0 ppg), Keion Bell (11.6 ppg) and Earnest Ross (10.3 ppg) round out a deep and talented scoring attack.
The Tigers' shaky play away from their home in Columbia this season is certainly cause for concern in the tournament, and Texas A&M hung tough with them in the regular-season matchup. But even with the Aggies' stout defense, Missouri boasts too much offensive fire power to be held back in this one.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Missouri 70, Texas A&M 63
03/14 10:51:33 ET