Northwestern (4-2) vs. Missouri (5-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, November 28, 10:30 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Orleans Arena (9,500) -- Las Vegas, Nevada. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: Northwestern 3-1, Missouri 4-0. Away Record: Northwestern 1-1, Missouri 0-0. Neutral Record: Northwestern 0-0, Missouri 1-0. Conference Record: Northwestern 0-0, Missouri 0-0. Series Record: Missouri leads, 4-3.
GAME NOTES: Celebrating the Thanksgiving Holiday in Sin City, the Northwestern Wildcats get together with the Missouri Tigers at Orleans Arena, as they take part in the next phase of the Las Vegas Invitational.
Since losing back-to-back games against Stanford and Illinois State, Northwestern has rattled off three consecutive victories, the most recent of those coming on Monday versus Gardner-Webb at home, 72-59.
As for the Tigers, they have yet to come out on the wrong side of an outing, cruising to a 5-0 start to the 2013-14 campaign. The team has won all but one game by double digits, with the trend holding true against IUPUI three days ago in a 78-64 final in Columbia.
Missouri leads the all-time series with the Wildcats by a count of 4-3, although the most recent encounter took place back in 1968 in Evanston, where Northwestern captured a 79-67 win. Both teams will be back in action on Friday in this event, with Missouri going up against Nevada and the Wildcats clashing with nationally-ranked UCLA.
Except for Sanjay Lumpkin who scored just three points before fouling out, every starter for the Wildcats landed in double figures in the victory over Gardner-Webb earlier this week. Tops among them was Alex Olah who not only tallied a game-high 18 points, he also recorded five blocked shots. Drew Crawford tallied 15 points and pulled down eight rebounds, his effort on the glass being matched by JerShon Cobb who tallied 14 points. Dave Sobolewski pitched in with 10 points and six of the team's 17 assists.
Crawford (16.3 ppg), Cobb (12.8 ppg) and Sobolewski (10.8 ppg) are all crucial pieces to the offensive puzzle for the Wildcats, but really this is a team that thrives more at the defensive end of the floor. Limiting the competition to just 62.0 ppg, Northwestern has held those foes to just 38.9 percent accuracy from the floor and 29.1 percent behind the 3-point line, not to mention watching them shoot a collective 62.5 percent at the free-throw line.
Missouri shot a solid 50.9 percent from the floor in the meeting with the Jaguars earlier this week, but holding IUPUI to a mere 5-of-19 showing beyond the arc and watching the visitors connect on only 5-of-10 at the free-throw line also had a lot to do with the 14-point win at Mizzou Arena. Jabari Brown led all scorers with 24 points, hitting 5-of-8 shots on the perimeter, followed by Jordan Clarkson with 22 points and Johnathan Williams with his double-double consisting of 10 points and 10 boards.
Brown and Clarkson are as good of a one-two scoring punch as there is in the country at the moment, putting up 19.2 and 18.8 ppg, respectively. In defense of his mere 28.6 percent effort on the perimeter, Clarkson has produced a team-best 18 assists and is tied with both Brown and Earnest Ross (12.2 ppg) with seven steals. Like Northwestern, the Tigers are also a bullish bunch on defense, allowing 39.3 percent shooting from the field and 27.4 percent beyond the arc.
Expect a tight game at both ends of the floor, but one that should be captured by Missouri on the play of Brown and Clarkson.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Missouri 68, Northwestern 59
11/28 10:32:10 ET