Missouri State (5-0) vs. Texas A&M (6-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, November 29, 10 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: American Bank Center (8,000) -- Corpus Christi, Texas. Television: CBSSN. Home Record: Missouri St. 4-0, Texas A&M 6-0. Away Record: Missouri St. 1-0, Texas A&M 0-0. Neutral Record: Missouri St. 0-0, Texas A&M 0-0. Conference Record: Missouri St. 0-0, Texas A&M 0-0. Series Record: Missouri State leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: Two undefeated teams collide in the semifinals of the Corpus Christi Challenge, as the Missouri State Bears meet the Texas A&M Aggies at the American Bank Center on Friday.
Paul Lusk's Bears have jumped out to a fast start to their season. It marks the first time since the 2009-10 campaign that the team has started 5-0. The team successfully navigated the regional portion of this tournament with wins over Hampton (81-67) and Liberty (54-52).
Billy Kennedy's Aggies have also yet to taste defeat, opening up with six wins in as many games. All six games have come in College Station, with tournament wins over Sam Houston State (79-62) and Arkansas Pine Bluff (88-55) prior to embarking for Corpus Christi.
Missouri State won the only prior meeting between these two teams. The winner will play either SMU or Virginia in the championship game on Saturday.
Jarmar Gulley scored 13 points and Christian Kirk added 10, as the Bears escaped their contest with Liberty 54-52. Missouri State struggled in shooting the ball, converting just 19-of-56 field-goal attempts, including 5-of-22 from 3-point range. The Bears trailed by five points at the break, but were able to rally for the win in the second half.
The struggles against the Flames were certainly not to the norm for the Bears, who are averaging a healthy 81.4 ppg on a solid .470 shooting. Gulley has gotten off to a strong start this year, shooting .519 from the field and leading the team in both scoring (15.0 ppg) and rebounding (6.2 rpg). Gulley will need to shoulder even more of the scoring load, with a knee injury sidelining guard Marcus Marshall (11.8 ppg). Marshall was absent in the narrow win over Liberty, a contributing factor in the team's less than stellar offensive performance. Kirk, who has come off the bench in all five games, has been a solid contributor (9.4 ppg, 5.2 rpg).
Texas A&M has thrived at both ends of the floor this season. The Aggies are averaging 80.5 ppg, doing so on an efficient .527 shooting, while contesting every shot and holding foes to just 62.0 ppg, on well under 40 percent accuracy (.365). Kourtney Roberson has been a tough task for opponents down low. The 6-foot-9 junior is connecting on just under 70 percent of his shots and leads the team in both scoring (14.0 ppg) and rebounding (8.2 rpg). Alex Caruso and Jamal Jones round out the top scorers with 10.8 and 10.3 ppg, respectively. Depth comes in the form of Antwan Space (9.7 ppg) and Jordan Green (9.3 ppg).
Arkansas-Pine Bluff just couldn't keep pace with the Aggies, who drained 59.6 percent from the floor, including 9-of-15 from 3-point range in a rout. Jones led four Aggies in double figures with 18 points. Fabyon Harris added 12 points, while Roberson and Green chipped in 11 each.
At less than full strength, the Bears will have a problem matching Texas A&M's firepower. Expect the Aggies to remain unbeaten behind the play of Roberson and company.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Texas A&M 74, Missouri State 63
11/29 10:42:52 ET