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Missouri (23-9) vs. Ole Miss (23-8)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, March 15, 10 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Bridgestone Arena (20,000) -- Nashville, Tennessee. Television: SEC Network, ESPN3.com. Home Record: Missouri 17-0, Ole Miss 16-1. Away Record: Missouri 2-8, Ole Miss 6-6. Neutral Record: Missouri 4-1, Ole Miss 1-1. Conference Record: Missouri 11-7, Ole Miss 12-6. Series Record: Series is tied, 1-1.
GAME NOTES: The quarterfinal round of the 2013 SEC Tournament wraps up late Friday night, as the sixth-seeded Missouri Tigers take on the third-seeded Ole Miss Rebels at Bridgestone Arena.
The winner will advance to Saturday's semifinals to play either Vanderbilt or Kentucky.
Missouri earned a 62-50 win over Texas A&M in Thursday's second round in its first-ever SEC Tournament game. The Tigers have now won four of their last five games dating back to the regular season, to improve to 23-9 overall.
Ole Miss got off the to the best start in program history this season, as it was 17-2 and 6-0 in the SEC in late January, and although it faltered in five of its next seven games, it wrapped up the season nicely with wins in four of five, including an 81-67 triumph at LSU last Saturday to give the team its highest regular-season finish since 1997-98. The Rebels would greatly benefit from a strong showing in this event, as they are still considered on the bubble for an NCAA Tournament bid.
The squads split the season series this year, the only two games in history between them, with each winning on its home floor by double-digits.
The Tigers took care of business in the second round by beating Texas A&M by 12 points. It was far from their best offensive performance, as they shot just 44.7 percent from the field and committed 19 turnovers, but they made up for it by playing outstanding defense, holding the Aggies to a lowly 24.1 percent from the floor. Alex Oriakhi was a steady presence in the paint with 13 points and 10 rebounds, while Laurence Bowers, Jabari Brown and Tony Criswell each netted 10 points in the winning effort. Missouri is usually much more potent at the offensive end, pouring in 76.7 ppg on greater than 46 percent accuracy from the floor. Pacing six teammates in double figures is Bowers with 14.6 ppg to go along with 6.1 rpg, and Oriakhi (11.4 ppg, 8.5 rpg) teams up with him for one of the top frontcourt duos in the country. Phil Pressey scores 11.5 ppg and hands out an SEC-best 7.1 apg, while Brown (13.9 ppg), Keion Bell (11.4 ppg) and Earnest Ross (10.2 ppg) are all solid shooting guards.
The Rebels weren't a very strong road team this season (6-6), but they had little problem dismissing LSU in their regular-season finale, shooting 52.5 percent from the floor in the 14-point victory. Marshall Henderson was the catalyst with 22 points, five assists and five steals, while Murphy Holloway tallied 16 points and eight rebounds. Jarvis Summers (15 points, six assists, five rebounds) and Nick Williams (11 points) were also effective in the winning effort. On the season, Ole Miss has the SEC's top-ranked scoring offense with 79.2 ppg (sixth in the nation), and it is able to score 11.1 ppg more than its opponents on average. Henderson is the league's leading scorer (19.7 ppg) and is among the nation's leaders in 3-pointers (121), but his overall field goal percentage hasn't been strong (.380). Holloway nets 14.6 ppg and grabs an SEC-best 9.6 rpg, while Reginald Buckner joins Holloway in the frontcourt with 9.4 ppg (on 58.4 percent from the field), 7.5 rpg and 2.7 bpg.
Expect a high-scoring affair between the SEC's two top offensive teams, and with both playing well, the game should go down to the wire. With Ole Miss being desperate for a win to possibly sneak into the NCAA Tournament, figure the Rebels to find a way to pull this one out.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Ole Miss 85, Missouri 83
03/15 10:35:47 ET