Tennessee St.-Missouri Preview

An unexpected challenge the last time out gave Frank Haith’s

developing Missouri team a chance to display its potential.

The 12th-ranked Tigers will try to build on the second-half

performance from their latest win when they host streaking

Tennessee State on Saturday.

Missouri trailed by 10 at halftime against Southeast Missouri

State on Tuesday but outscored the Redhawks 46-20 in the second

half, going on to an 81-65 win. The Tigers (7-1) shot 51.9 percent

over the final 20 minutes and limited the visitors to 26.7 percent

shooting after allowing them to hit 55.2 percent before the

break.

Missouri also made 17 of 19 free throws after missing their only

two attempts in the first half, and finished with a season-low five

turnovers.

“Glass always half full for me,” Haith said. “I look at how we

played in the second half and that’s how good this team can be, if

we buy in and we play the way we’re capable of playing.”

Missouri has three transfers on its roster – Alex Oriakhi,

Earnest Ross and Keion Bell – with another on the way. Jabari

Brown, who last played at Oregon, is expected to become eligible

ahead of a visit from South Carolina State on Dec. 17.

Laurence Bowers has returned from a knee injury that forced him

to sit out last season, but he has found his groove lately with a

combined 49 points in the last two games. He scored a career-high

26 and grabbed nine rebounds Tuesday.

“He can do everything,” Bell said. “His skill set is so diverse

that you can’t really come up with a game plan of how to stop him.

You can try to contain him. But Laurence, he can just do everything

on the floor. He’s a hard, diligent worker, and his hard work is

paying off.”

Missouri’s lone returning starter, Phil Pressey, has struggled

with his shooting lately, connecting at 33.8 percent over the last

six games. He’s 6 of 25 (24.0 percent) in the past two games and 2

of 13 from 3-point range.

“There may be a night where we want Phil taking 18 shots, but

that’s not his game right now,” Haith said.

Pressey and his teammates would appear to have a couple of

opportunities to tune up before facing No. 13 Illinois on Dec. 22,

but there’s a chance Tennessee State (4-5) might provide another

test. It has won three in a row while shooting at least 50.0

percent in each game.

Kellen Thornton had a team-best 20 points in a 76-66 victory

over Drexel on Tuesday and has averaged 21.5 and 64.4 percent

shooting in his last four games. Leading scorer Robert Covington,

averaging 16.3 points, had 17 after scoring at least 25 in each of

his two previous contests.

Tennessee State, though, faces the difficult task of trying to

snap Missouri’s 70-game home win streak against non-conference

opponents. Missouri has also won 22 in a row in December.

Missouri took the only matchup with Tennessee State on Nov. 27,

1995.