GAME NOTES: After both sides missed opportunities to take part in the NCAA Tournament, the second-seeded Missouri Tigers and the seventh-seeded Davidson Wildcats will have to settle for squaring off in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament on Tuesday night at Mizzou Arena.
The survivor of this matchup will take on the winner of the Southern Miss/Toledo bout in the second round.
Davidson (20-12) won the Southern Conference regular season for the third consecutive season, thus earning an automatic bid to the NIT, but it was upset in the semifinals of the conference tournament by fifth-seeded Western Carolina, 99-97 in overtime. The Wildcats last appeared in the NIT back in 2009, when they won a first-round bout against South Carolina (70-63) before losing to Saint Mary's (80-68).
Missouri (22-11) was once among the nationally ranked, but has gone just 10-10 since January and missed out on the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2008. The Tigers had a chance to bolster their resume in the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament as they went into intermission tied with No. 1 Florida, but they lost control in the second half to fall by a 72-49 final.
Davidson leads the all-time series with Missouri, 2-1, although the Tigers took down the most recent meeting on Nov. 16, 2006, 81-75 at Mizzou Arena.
The Wildcats led their latest game by as many as 15 early in the second half only to allow WCU to battle back and tie the game before regulation, and in the extra session they committed a foul with three seconds remaining and saw WCU break the 97-97 tie with a pair of free throws. The squad had a porous defensive performance, but the offense still shined in the loss, with Chris Czerapowicz pacing six teammates in double figures with 22 points. De'Mon Brooks had 17 points, Tyler Kalinoski and Jake Belford both netted 15, while Brian Sullivan and Jack Gibbs scored 11 and 10, respectively.
On the season, Davidson's scoring attack has been outstanding, as it boasts strong percentages from the field (.480), 3-point range (.379) and the free- throw line (.712) for 78.6 ppg, numbers which successfully mask an underwhelming scoring defense (72.5 ppg). Brooks puts up 18.7 ppg and 7.1 rpg on a lofty 59 percent field goal shooting. Sullivan (13.2 ppg), Kalinoski (10.9 ppg) and Tom Droney (10.3 ppg) are also impressive scorers.
The Tigers battled tight with Florida for most of their latest game and trailed by just two with 10 minutes to play, but the Gators asserted their dominance down the stretch by finishing the game on a 34-13 run. The team shot a mere 36.4 percent from the field and were led by the efforts of Jabari Brown and his 18 points. Jordan Clarkson added 11 points and swiped four steals but was also plagued by six turnovers.
Missouri shoots a stellar 45.4 percent from the field this season for 72.9 ppg, but while it owns a positive scoring margin on the season (+3.4), during 18 SEC games that number shrunk to -1.0. Brown is the SEC's top scorer with 19.8 ppg, having knocked down 77 3-pointers at a 40.7 percent clip while making 80.2 percent of his free-throw tries. Clarkson (17.7 ppg, 3.4 apg) joins Brown for a dynamic backcourt, and Earnest Ross (13.7 ppg, 6.1 rpg) is a versatile forward.
There should be plenty of points to go around in this matchup, but after going 15-2 at Mizzou Arena during the regular season, expect Missouri to use its home surroundings to propel it to victory.
Game Date and Time