Long Beach St.-Missouri Preview
After bouncing back from its first loss with an impressive road win, coach Frank Haith is feeling good about his Missouri team with the start of SEC play on the horizon.
The 25th-ranked Tigers try to extend the nation's longest home winning streak Saturday against a Long Beach State team that doesn't figure to be intimidated by a visit to Mizzou Arena.
A week after a 65-64 loss in which rival Illinois hit two free throws with 4.6 seconds left to spoil its perfect start, Missouri (11-1) appeared to be on its way to another defeat at North Carolina State last Saturday.
Instead, the Tigers overcame what Haith called probably their worst half of the season. Missouri trailed by 10 with 8:56 left, but rallied for a 68-64 victory in its first true road game.
Jabari Brown put the Tigers ahead for good by knocking down a 3-pointer with 54 seconds left, the last of his 17 points. Brown hit three of his last four field goals - including two 3s - after starting 3 of 9.
''I'm comfortable,'' said Brown, who has averaged 19.8 points and hit 11 of 27 3-pointers in his last four at home. ''I've got confidence in myself. Most of my shots weren't falling, so I knew I was bound to hit a couple.''
Haith was happy to see the Tigers face some adversity - particularly given the result.
''We wanted to have a game like this going into (conference) play,'' Haith said. ''Obviously we've had some high-level games already: UCLA, Illinois and West Virginia. But those were either at neutral sites or home games, so it was important for us to have a (road) game like this as we move into SEC play.''
The 49ers (4-9) likely won't be fazed by the Tigers' 25-game home winning streak. They played five top 15 opponents in their 2011-12 non-conference schedule, four last season and have faced top-ranked Arizona, then-No. 14 Michigan and then-No. 10 VCU in addition to Creighton and N.C. State so far this season.
Long Beach State has won three straight since ending a nine-game skid against opponents that entered Friday's action a combined 84-25.
Michael Caffey finished with 26 points and made a 3-pointer at the buzzer to force overtime in an 80-77 win at Nevada last Saturday. In his third game since earning his eligibility, UCLA transfer Tyler Lamb added 17 despite missing 20 of 25 shots.
That duo has averaged 44.3 points during the winning streak, but Caffey and Lamb could have a difficult time keeping it going against a Missouri team that has limited opponents to a 37.6 field-goal percentage and 25.7 3-point percentage in Columbia.
Missouri, however, will have to regroup offensively after shooting a season-low 40.4 percent from the field against the Wolfpack. That may not be a problem at Mizzou Arena, where the Tigers have averaged 80.0 points on 48.4 percent shooting during their nation-best home winning streak.
They've also won 80 straight home games against non-conference opponents by an average of 24.3 points.
The 49ers, who have never played the Tigers, have lost to their three ranked opponents this season by an average of 21.3 points.
Long Beach State's lone true road win in 14 tries against Top 25 opponents since Dan Monson's arrival in 2007 came in November 2011 at No. 9 Pittsburgh.