Feb. 2, 2013; Columbia, MO, USA; Missouri Tigers guard Keion Bell (5) dribbles the ball during the second half against the Auburn Tigers at Mizzou Arena. Missouri won 91-77. Mandatory Credit: Dak Dillon-USA TODAY Sports
(KSDK Sports) -- The Missouri Tigers will try to stay perfect at Mizzou Arena this season, as they entertain the LSU Tigers in an SEC bout on Saturday afternoon.
LSU has been one of the strongest teams in the SEC the last few weeks, as it has won four of its last five games, including on Wednesday night against Arkansas, 65-60. The victory for the Tigers brought them to 17-9 overall and above .500 in conference (8-7), but they now head back out on the road where they've gone just 3-7 this season.
Missouri wrapped up a two-game road swing on Thursday night with a 90-68 win over South Carolina, effectively bouncing back from a heartbreaking overtime loss at Kentucky last Saturday. It is now 20-8 overall, reaching the 20-win plateau for a school-record fifth straight season, and at 9-6 in the SEC, it is one game out of a potential first-round bye in the upcoming conference tournament, which are awarded to the top four seeds.
LSU topped Missouri in Baton Rouge on Jan. 30, 73-70, in the first meeting between the two as SEC rivals, and the Tigers lead the all-time series, 2-0.
LSU led its recent tilt with Arkansas by as many as 20 points, and while the Razorbacks managed to make a game of it late by cutting their deficit to two with under two minutes to play, the Tigers never lost control completely as they hung on for the win. Leading the way in the triumph was a career-best performance from Charles Carmouche, who shot 9-of-11 from the field (including 3-of-5 from 3-point range) on his way to 26 points. Anthony Hickey was also solid, netting 10 points while dishing out five assists. On the season, LSU boasts one of the league's most impressive offenses, pouring in 71.4 ppg, and it gets contributions from five players scoring in double figures on a nightly basis. Johnny O'Bryant III shoots nearly 50 percent from the field for 13.6 ppg while adding 8.7 rpg, and he has an SEC-best 12 double-doubles this season. Hickey nets 11.8 ppg, has more than twice as many assists (97) as turnovers (46), and is an excellent perimeter defender with a nation-leading 3.3 spg. Rounding out the unit's offensive attack is Shavon Coleman (10.8 ppg, 6.4 rpg), Stringer (10.3 ppg) and Carmouche (10.1 ppg).
Missouri had no issue dismissing South Carolina earlier in the week thanks to its phenomenal shooting effort, as it drained 32-of-46 from the floor (.696) and 20-of-26 from the free-throw line (.769). It was paced by a pair of outstanding efforts in the backcourt, as Keion Bell poured in 24 points and Jabari Brown tallied 23 to go with five assists and two steals. Alex Oriakhi was also solid, putting together a perfect night from the field (6-of-6) and the stripe (6-of-6) en route to 18 points. The offensive outburst was nothing new for this squad, which ranks second in the SEC in scoring, netting 76.7 ppg. It is also one of the strongest rebounding teams in the nation with a +9.7 margin on the glass. Pacing an incredible six players in double figures is Brown with 14.5 ppg, with Laurence Bowers (13.8 ppg, 6.0 rpg) hot on his heels. Phil Pressey isn't a very impressive shooter, making less than 38 percent of his field goal attempts for 12.0 ppg, but he makes up for it with an SEC-leading 7.1 apg. Rounding out one of the deepest scoring attacks in the nation are Bell (11.9 ppg), Oriakhi (10.8 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 1.5 bpg) and Earnest Ross (10.3 ppg).
Considering its incredibly talented roster, Missouri has under-performed this season, and as a result it is situated squarely on the bubble for an NCAA Tournament bid, but it has not disappointed on its home floor, and even against a hot LSU squad, it shouldn't have an issue continuing its late-season push.