Preview: Tigers welcome Western Michigan to Mizzou Arena

Paced by a talented guard trio and a solid defense, Missouri looks to

continue its success at home while playing as a ranked team for the

first time this season.

The No. 24 Tigers will try to extend two of the nation’s longest home winning streaks Sunday night against Western Michigan.

A

pair of 80-71 home victories over West Virginia and then-No. 18 UCLA in

a span of three days last week propelled Missouri (9-0) into the Top

25. The Tigers held the Bruins to a season-low 37.7 percent shooting,

including 5 of 20 from 3-point range, to extend the nation’s longest

home winning streak to 24 games.

Missouri’s 79 straight home

victories over non-conference opponents sit behind only Duke’s 107-game

run for the longest active streak of its kind. The Tigers’ last

non-conference defeat at home came on Nov. 14, 2005, 80-77 to Sam

Houston State.

“We’ve got the best fans in the country,” coach Frank Haith told the school’s official website.

Missouri’s

talented backcourt of Jabari Brown, Jordan Clarkson and Earnest Ross

combined for 63 points and went 10 of 24 from 3-point range against

UCLA. Ross, who hit half of those 3s, is 9 of 21 from beyond the arc

while averaging 21.3 points in the last three games.

“As I

continue to shoot and see shots go in, it makes the basket get a little

bit bigger,” he said. “When I’m in a rhythm, I just think I’m in a

pretty good groove and I just continue to keep shooting.”

Clarkson

(20.2 points per game) made 40.0 percent of his shots against the

Bruins, but is shooting 55.4 percent over the last five contests. Brown

(19.4 ppg) finished with a team-high 22 points and hit all 10 free-throw

attempts.

“When (the three) have nights like they did (last Saturday) then we can be a tough out,” Haith said.

Haith

has also been pleased that the Tigers have allowed no opponent to shoot

better than 44.3 percent and only one to top 71 points this season.

“This

team has really improved defensively,” he said. “I give it two things:

our execution in our offense and being able to set our defense.”

That

might not bode well for Western Michigan (5-3), which faces a daunting

task while trying to bounce back from a 51-35 loss at Northwestern last

Saturday.

“We got (Missouri) just at the right time, when (it)

cracked the Top 25,” Broncos coach Steve Hawkins joked to the school’s

official website. “They present a unique challenge.”

After

totaling 182 points and shooting a combined 55.6 percent in consecutive

victories over Oakland and Cornell, Western Michigan was held to 12

first-half points, went 1 of 15 from 3-point range and shot 24.4 percent

(10 of 41) against Northwestern.

Though Hawkins knows the

difficult challenge that awaits the Broncos in their first-ever meeting

with Missouri, he wants his players to simply focus on improving on

their last contest.

“This is about us trying to get back on track against an outstanding basketball team,” he said.

Western

Michigan guard David Brown averages a team-leading 20.1 points but has

totaled 26 while going 7 of 25 from the field in the last two games.