Missouri-Kentucky basketball preview

01/31/2014 5:48 PM

01/31/2014 5:48 PM

• WHEN/ WHERE:

Noon Saturday at Mizzou Arena in Columbia

• TV/RADI O:

CBS (Chs. 5, 13); KMBZ (980 AM, 98.1 FM)

• ABOUT KENTUCKY (15-5, 5-2 SEC) :

Kentucky owns the top rebounding margin in the SEC and ranks fourth nationally, winning the battle on the boards by 10.7 rebounds on average. The ring leader is Julius Randle, who leads all NCAA freshmen in rebounding (10.1). Seven Wildcats average at least 3.0 rebounds per game, inlcuding 7-foot Olathe Northwest graduate Willie Cauley-Stein (6.8). Led by Cauley-Stein, who averages 3.2 blocks per game, Kentucky’s front line also does a terrific job protecting the rim much like LSU, which racked up nine blocks in a win against Missouri.

• ABOUT MISSOURI (16-4, 4-3 SEC):

In five previous meetings, the Tigers haven’t beaten Kentucky. That includes an overtime loss last February at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky. Junior Jabari Brown has scored at least 24 points in Missouri’s last four games, becoming the first Tiger to do so since Anthony Peeler in 1992. Brown is 20 of 29 from three-point range in the last five games and ranks fourth in the nation in three-point shooting overall at 47.6 percent. He needs to stay hot, but the Tigers also need Johnathan Williams III and Ryan Rosburg to be strong on the boards. The duo averages 12.1 rebounds but combined for 21 in Tuesday’s win at Arkansas.

• BOTTOM LINE:

Kentucky and Missouri are the only two SEC teams that rank in the top 100 nationally in both scoring offense and scoring defense. The Wildcats lead the SEC in field-goal percentage (47.1), while the Tigers sit atop the conference in field-goal percentage defense (38.8). Missouri has a significant advantage in terms of three-point and free-throw shooting. The Tigers will need to remain aggressive on offense against a long, athletic Wildcats squad and need to play better team defense than they did in a loss Jan. 21 at LSU.

P No. Kentucky Ht. Yr. PPG
F 15 Willie Cauley-Stein 7-0 So. 7.8
F 30 Julius Randle 6-9 Fr. 16.1
G 1 James Young 6-6 Fr. 14.7
G 2 Aaron Harrison 6-6 Fr. 13.8
G 5 Andrew Harrison 6-6 Fr. 11.0
P No. Missouri Ht. Yr. PPG
F 3 Johnathan Williams III 6-9 Fr. 6.8
F 44 Ryan Rosburg 6-10 So. 4.7
G 5 Jordan Clarkson 6-5 Jr. 18.5
G 32 Jabari Brown 6-5 Jr. 19.8
G 33 Earnest Ross 6-5 Sr. 14.5

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