No. 11 Kentucky meets Missouri in SEC showdown
02/01/2014 7:56 AM
02/01/2014 9:34 AM
Columbia, MO (SportsNetwork.com) - The 11th-ranked Kentucky Wildcats look to get some distance between themselves and a disappointing loss, as they take on the Missouri Tigers in an SEC showdown at Mizzou Arena on Saturday afternoon.
John Calipari's Wildcats had a three-game win streak come to a close with an 87-82 road loss at LSU on Tuesday. The loss dropped Kentucky to 5-2 in conference play, good for a second-place tie with Ole Miss in the SEC standings, behind only Florida (7-0).
Frank Haith's Tigers are 16-4 on the season. After slow start to league play, Missouri has won two straight games to move to 4-3 in-conference. The team traveled to Fayetteville this week and left with a 75-71 win over Arkansas. Missouri is a strong 10-1 at home this season.
Kentucky has won all five previous meetings with Missouri.
The Wildcats trailed LSU by six points at the half (42-36) but were unable to overcome the Tigers in a five-point road loss. The loss spoiled a strong outing from James Young, who hit five 3-pointers en route to a team-high 23 points. Dakari Johnson added 15 points off the bench, while Aaron Harrison and Alex Poythress finished with 14 and 10 points, respectively.
Freshman phenom Julius Randle, who had just six points and five rebounds in the loss to LSU, remains as Kentucky's top scorer and rebounder on the year, averaging 16.1 points and 10.2 rebounds per game. Young has proved to be another ultra-talented freshman (14.7 ppg), as have twins Aaron (13.8 ppg) and Andrew (11.0 ppg) Harrison. Overall, the young Wildcats are shooting a steady .471 from the floor and putting up a healthy 79.8 ppg. The team also ranks among the nation's best in rebounding, owning an eye-popping +10.7 rebounding margin (fourth in the nation).
Missouri is a little more reliant on its veteran playmakers. Junior guards Jabari Brown and Jordan Clarkson are a potent duo. Brown has shot the lights out this season, converting 50.2 percent from the floor and 47.6 percent from behind the arc to lead the SEC in scoring at 19.8 ppg. Clarkson isn't far behind in the scoring column, ranked sixth in the league at 18.5 ppg. Earnest Ross adds further depth with 14.5 ppg.
Brown hit four 3-pointers and was a perfect 8-of-8 from the free-throw line, pouring in 24 points in the win over the Razorbacks. Ross matched that output, putting up 24 points of his own. Clarkson added 11 points and doled out six assists. Johnathan Williams grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds.
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