Vanderbilt (8-9) at (22) Missouri (14-4)
Saturday, January 26, 5 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Nicholas DeLorenzo, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Mizzou Arena (15,061) -- Columbia, Missouri, . Television: ESPN U. Home Record: Vandy 5-4, Missouri 11-0. Away Record: Vandy 2-2, Missouri 0-3. Neutral Record: Vandy 1-3, Missouri 3-1. Conference Record: Vandy 2-3, Missouri 3-2. Series Record: Vanderbilt leads, 3-2.
GAME NOTES: After both teams recorded wins earlier this week, the Vanderbilt Commodores and the 22nd-ranked Missouri Tigers try to keep the momentum going on Saturday afternoon when they meet at Mizzou Arena for an SEC tilt.
After losing its first three league matchups, Vanderbilt is coming off back- to-back wins for just the second time this season following victories over South Carolina (58-51) and most recently at home versus Auburn (73-61) on Wednesday night. The Commodores are now 8-9 overall, and they have split four true road games.
Missouri started the season off red-hot with wins in 10 of its first 11 games, but it has since taken a tumble in the rankings with three losses since Dec. 28. Following an 83-52 setback at Florida last Saturday, the Tigers bounced back with a 71-65 triumph over South Carolina on Tuesday to stay perfect at Mizzou Arena (11-0).
Vanderbilt has won three of the five all-time meetings against Missouri, most recently claiming an 85-82 overtime decision in Columbia on Dec. 8, 2010.
The Commodores have struggled to score points this season, ranking 13th in the SEC with an average of only 59.8 ppg, and when they do win it's usually because of their fourth-ranked scoring defense, which yields an average of 60.6 ppg. Their field goal percentage in their last outing was rather modest (.408), but they were able to cruise to a 12-point victory behind an outstanding 24-of-30 showing from the foul line. Kedren Johnson shot 8-of-10 from the stripe on his way to 15 points, while also adding team-highs in assists (four) and rebounds (seven). Kyle Fuller (14 points) and Kevin Bright (12 points) were impressive off the bench, and Sheldon Jeter added 10 points in the victory. Johnson is Vanderbilt's top scorer at 15.1 ppg, and he adds 4.0 rpg, 3.3 apg and 1.5 spg for good measure. Fuller (10.8 ppg) and Odom (9.2 ppg) are also regular contributors to the lackluster offensive attack.
Missouri actually trailed by as many as 13 points to South Carolina in its latest bout, but it mounted a furious comeback behind a 20-2 run and ultimately escaped with the six-point win. Earnest Ross came off the bench to tally 21 points and 10 rebounds, while Alex Oriakhi (18 points, 11 rebounds) also recorded a double-double. Jabari Brown was far from his best from the field (5-of-16), but he still finished with 17 points. The Tigers shoot 44.1 percent from the floor this season and a league-best 73.0 percent from the foul line en route to 75.3 ppg, and they are one of the most balanced squads in the nation with six players netting at least 8.9 ppg. They'll be shorthanded in this matchup however, as Laurence Bowers (16.8 ppg, 6.9 rpg) is out with a sprained knee and Keion Bell (8.9 ppg) is questionable with an ankle injury. In their absences, Missouri will rely on Brown (14.4 ppg) and Phil Pressey (11.9 ppg, SEC-best 7.2 apg) more than usual in the backcourt, although neither shoots greater than 37 percent from the floor. Oriakhi (10.4 ppg) adds a team-high 8.4 rpg and 1.6 bpg, while Ross chips in 10.3 ppg and 5.4 rpg.
Vanderbilt has the defensive chops to slow down the Tigers, especially considering they are lacking a good portion of their scoring depth, but Missouri still has plenty of talent that is healthy and it has been far too good at home to falter against an inconsistent Commodores squad.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Missouri 70, Vanderbilt 60
01/26 10:37:04 ET