Florida at Mizzou
WHEN/WHERE: Noon Saturday at Mizzou Arena in Columbia
TV/RADIO: CBS; KMBZ (98.1 FM)
ABOUT MISSOURI (11-3, 1-0 SEC): The Tigers will be without their regular starting point guard, Blake Harris, who has decided to transfer from the program. He is the second member of Mizzou’s top-five 2017 recruiting class to transfer. Guard C.J. Roberts, who has transferred to Texas Tech, is the other. Harris’ departure means Jordan Geist — who started against South Carolina because Harris missed four practices because of an illness, according to coach Cuonzo Martin — should become the regular starter. Junior Terrence Phillips, who is averaging a career low 11.4 minutes, should take on a more prominent role, too. … Mizzou snapped a 32-game losing streak in conference road games on Wednesday with a 79-68 victory over South Carolina. … Missouri turned the ball over 13 times on Wednesday after recording 21 turnovers in each of its previous two games leading up to conference play. Coach Cuonzo Martin has said that fixing the Tigers’ turnover problem will just take time. He believes more offensive reps will help. ... The Tigers are one of the country’s better three-point shooting teams. Against Division I opponents, the Tigers have hit 41.2 percent of their three-point attempts. That leads the Southeastern Conference. ... Forward Jordan Barnett has made 29 of his last 59 three-point attempts. Graduate transfer Kassius Robertson has scored at least 20 points in each of the past three games. Jontay Porter scored a career high 19 points against South Carolina. … Missouri is 3-2 in SEC home openers. … The SEC is having a strong year for basketball. Four teams — No. 11 Texas A&M, No. 17 Kentucky, No. 22 Arkansas and No. 23 Tennessee — are ranked. Mississippi State, Alabama and Auburn also received votes in the latest AP top 25 poll. As of Friday morning, six SEC teams, including Missouri, rank in the top 25 of NCAA RPI.
ABOUT FLORIDA (10-4, 2-0 SEC): The Gators began the season ranked No. 8 in the country and picked to finish second in a strong Southeastern Conference. But a loss to Duke on Nov. 27 in the PK80 Invitational in Portland, Ore., began a slide. That was the first of four defeats in five games for the Gators. Loyola-Chicago delivered the most embarrassing one of them when it beat Florida on the Gators’ home court. Florida has since rebounded, though, and has won its first two SEC games, including a road win at No. 11 Texas A&M, which was without three starters. … The Gators’ leading scorer, Jalen Hudson, averages 16.9 points per game, but he has come off the bench for their last two games while recovering from a virus. Coach Mike White told reporters that Hudson is still not fully recovered from his illness. ... Florida shoots well as a team from the three-point line and free throw line. The Gators have converted 39.5 percent of their three-point attempts this season and made 77.5 percent of their free throws, which ranks 19th in the country. Senior forward Egor Koulechov, a transfer from Rice, has made 40 of 41 free throws this season. Koulechov, a 6-foot-5 Russian, is second on the team in scoring and leads the Gators with 6.6 rebounds per game. … Guard KeVaughn Allen, who is tied with Chris Chiozza for the team lead in minutes (31.6), was Florida’s sole representative on the preseason All-SEC teams. … Like past opponents Mizzou has struggled against, the Gators do a good job of forcing turnovers. According to KenPom.com, Florida’s opponents have turned the ball over on 21.3 percent of their possessions, and 21.8 of Missouri’s possessions this season have ended in turnovers. Offensively, Florida rarely gives the ball away. The Gators’ turnover rate of 13.9 percent ranks third in the country.