Tennessee (15-9) at Missouri (17-7)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 15, 4 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Mizzou Arena (15,061) -- Columbia, Missouri. Television: ESPN 2. Home Record: UT 11-3, Missouri 11-2. Away Record: UT 2-5, Missouri 3-4. Neutral Record: UT 2-1, Missouri 3-1. Conference Record: UT 6-5, Missouri 5-6. Series Record: Missouri leads, 4-3.
GAME NOTES: The Missouri Tigers continue their three-game homestand at Mizzou Arena on Saturday afternoon when they welcome the Tennessee Volunteers to Columbia for an SEC showdown.
Tennessee has been largely impressive this season at 15-9 overall and 6-5 in SEC play, but it has been on the down slope recently with losses in two of its last three, including a 67-58 setback at home to Florida on Tuesday night. The Vols have not fared well on the road, going just 2-5.
While Missouri's overall record of 17-7 is strong, it has failed to establish itself as one of the SEC's best, as it sports just a 5-6 league mark. The Tigers were able to snap a three-game losing streak on Thursday night, however, capturing a last-minute 86-85 victory over Arkansas to improve to 11-2 on their home floor.
The Tigers lead the all-time series with Tennessee, 4-3, but the Vols won the first matchup as SEC foes last March, 64-62. The teams will meet up again on March 8 in the regular-season finale in Knoxville.
The Vols put up a strong effort earlier in the week against the third-ranked Gators, even leading by one at the half, but it couldn't hold on and eventually fell by the nine-point final. They outshot UF from the field, 45.8 percent to 36.2 percent, but they committed a game-high 15 turnovers and were outscored at the free-throw line, 17-9. Jarnell Stokes made a statement in the paint with 20 points and 11 rebounds, while Jordan McRae and Josh Richardson scored 17 and 13 points, respectively. Jeronne Maymon was solid with nine rebounds, four steals and three blocks, but he scored just two points and committed an unseemly eight turnovers.
Tennessee has impressed on both ends of the floor this season, shooting 44.7 percent from the field for 72.5 ppg while allowing just 63.3 ppg on 41.7 percent shooting. It also boasts an outstanding +8.4 rebounding margin, paced by the strong frontcourt duo of Stokes (14.2 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 0.9 bpg) and Maymon (10.6 ppg, 8.2 rpg). McRae is one of the SEC's top scoring threats with 19.2 ppg on 59-of-149 from 3-point range and 111-of-141 at the free-throw line (.787), and he's a solid defender as well with 24 blocks and 18 steals.
The Tigers coughed up two large second-half leads, one of 11 points with 18:27 left and the other an eight-point cushion with 3:38 to play, and trailed by one on their final possession before Jabari Brown saved an epic collapse by draining the game-winning jumper with 11 seconds left. In a game that consisted of 13 ties and 11 lead changes, the Tigers shot a modest 43.6 percent from the field but made up for it with an outstanding 34-of-38 showing at the foul line. Jordan Clarkson was the catalyst with 27 points, five rebounds and four assists, and Brown's late heroics capped off a 25-point performance. Earnest Ross added a double-double to the winning effort with 15 points and 11 rebounds.
Although Missouri has been shaky in recent week, it still posts strong numbers this season, outshooting its opponents from the field, 46.1 percent to 40.2 percent, with a +6.2 scoring margin and a +6.2 rebounding margin. Its excellent night from the foul line earlier in the week was no fluke either, as it ranks first in the SEC in free-throw percentage (.733). Brown is the league's second-leading scorer with 20.3 ppg, having knocked down 67-of-149 from beyond the arc (.450). Clarkson is hot on his heels with 19.2 ppg to go with 3.3 apg, while Ross (14.2 ppg, 6.7 rpg) rounds out one of the nation's best scoring trios.
Missouri has been anything but trustworthy of late, but at home against an equally up-and-down Tennessee squad, expect the Tigers to find a way to take this one down.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Missouri 74, Tennessee 71
02/15 10:43:47 ET