Missouri roller coaster continues tonight in South Carolina

2:29 PM, Feb 28, 2013   |    comments
Jan. 22, 2013; Columbia, MO, USA; Missouri Tigers guard Phil Pressey (1) tries to get past South Carolina Gamecocks forward RJ Slawson (33) during the second half at Mizzou Arena. The Missouri Tigers defeated the South Carolina Gamecocks 71-65. Mandatory Credit: Dak Dillon-USA TODAY Sports
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(KSDK Sports) -- SEC foes Missouri and South Carolina meet for only the second time ever, when the two square off at Colonial Life Arena on Thursday night.

Missouri's first run through the SEC has been a roller coaster ride, as the team comes in sporting a 19-8 overall record, but just an 8-6 league ledger. The Tigers, who had spent time among the nationally-ranked earlier in the season, have split their last eight games, with their latest bout resulting in a double-overtime loss at Kentucky last Saturday, 90-83. The setback was Mizzou's seventh in eight true road games this season.

South Carolina comes in a game below .500 on the year (13-14), and the rest of the teams in the SEC have feasted on the Gamecocks, resulting in the team's dismal 3-11 league ledger. USC has lost seven of its last eight games, the most recent of which being a 62-54 overtime decision at Georgia last Saturday. The Gamecocks are 9-7 at home this season, but they've dropped three of their last four at Colonial Life Arena.

Missouri and South Carolina met for the first time last month, with the Tigers prevailing at home, 71-65.

Offensive production has not been a problem for Missouri this season, the team averaging a healthy 76.2 ppg in dropping 44.9 percent of its field goal attempts, 33.5 percent of its 3-point tries, and 75.0 percent of its free throws. The Tigers boast a total of six double-digit scorers, with Laurence Bowers and Jabari Brown leading the way with 14.1 ppg apiece. Phil Pressey (12.4 ppg, 7.0 apg), Keion Bell (11.4 ppg, 4.3 rpg), Alex Oriakhi (10.6 ppg, 8.8 rpg) and Earnest Ross (10.3 ppg, 5.2 rpg) have all helped Mizzou achieve the level of success it has to this point. Defensively, Mizzou yields 66.6 ppg, but Kentucky soared high above that mark in the recent clash between the two, the Wildcats shooting 50.8 percent from the floor, nailing seven treys, and outscoring the Tigers at the foul line, 23-12. Pressey scored a game-high 27 points, and completed a double-double performance by handing out 10 assists. Oriakhi logged a double-double of his own with 16 points and 15 rebounds, while Bowers tallied 13 points in the losing effort.

South Carolina has struggled to find consistency this season, shooting just 41.5 percent from the field in netting 66.3 ppg, while allowing 67.6 ppg on nearly 44 percent efficiency by the opposition. The team features only two active double-digit scorers, as Michael Carrera nets 10.2 ppg and Brenton Williams checks in with 10.0 ppg. Bruce Ellington is close to joining them however, as he averages 9.9 ppg. Carrera is also the club's leading rebounder with 7.3 rpg, helping USC claim a +3.1 advantage on the glass. The team is guilty of 15.6 turnover per outing, and it committed 16 miscues in the overtime loss at Georgia last time out. Poor shooting also hampered the Gamecocks, as they connected on only 30 percent of their field goal attempts, missing 13 of their 19 3-point attempts along the way. Georgia shot just 31.3 percent from the floor, but used a 28-12 edge in points from the charity stripe to earn the victory. Ellington was the only South Carolina player to reach double figures in the low-scoring tilt, netting 11 points on the strength of three 3-pointers.

It's been a tale of two teams for Missouri this season, the squad going a perfect 15-0 at home, but just 1-7 on the road. Meanwhile, South Carolina hasn't proven its worth in either aspect. Expect the Tigers to prevail here, although it won't be easy.

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