Missouri-South Carolina Preview
South Carolina coach Frank Martin is anxious to see how his team responds to its first loss of the season.
Missouri's Kim Anderson likely wishes his concerns were that simple.
Saddled by recruiting sanctions and coming off the most lopsided defeat at its current home, the beleaguered Tigers try to turn the page in Saturday's visit to the No. 19 Gamecocks.
It's been a rough week for the Missouri program. Hours after the Tigers were dealt a 94-61 home loss to Arkansas on Tuesday, the university announced it will issue a self-imposed ban from this year's postseason and vacate all 23 wins from the 2013-14 campaign for multiple NCAA infractions under previous coach Frank Haith.
The Tigers also stripped themselves of two scholarships, including one this season, and will impose recruiting limitations through 2016-17.
More penalties from the NCAA may be forthcoming that would further impede the progress Missouri (8-8, 1-2 SEC) has made in Anderson's second season. The Tigers finished 9-23 overall and 3-15 in the SEC after the former Missouri star player replaced Haith, now at Tulsa, for 2014-15.
"I hurt for our kids more than anything and for our only senior Ryan Rosburg in particular, but I am confident we will overcome this and be stronger as a team and as a staff because of it," Anderson said. "We are committed to representing this great university and state with honor and integrity and that's what we are going to do."
Martin's rebuilding effort has started to reap benefits in his third season at South Carolina (15-1, 2-1), an also-ran in the SEC for most of the past decade. Those strides weren't evident, however, in Wednesday's 73-50 loss at Alabama in which the Gamecocks produced easily their lowest point total of the season.
Averaging 80.2 points coming in, South Carolina shot just 35.8 percent, committed 18 turnovers and couldn't stop the Crimson Tide's Riley Norris, who went 8 of 11 from 3-point range for a career-high 27 points.
"We got outrebounded, we got beat to every ball, we couldn't guard the ball (and) we were late on rotations. Bad day at the office," Martin said.
The Gamecocks finished 3 of 18 from 3 and have shot just 27.6 percent from beyond the arc over their last five games. They hit 40.9 percent over their first 11.
Missouri is in a greater funk, shooting 37.5 percent over its three conference games. The Tigers were 3 of 15 on 3-pointers while allowing Arkansas to connect on 62.7 percent of their field-goal attempts in their worst loss in the 11-year history of Mizzou Arena.
"I'm embarrassed," Anderson said. "I thought we had played pretty well the other night against Auburn (a 76-61 win last Saturday), but (Tuesday) we didn't respond very well early in the game.''
Missouri, 7-1 when holding opponents under 40 percent, looks to end a 15-game road losing streak in SEC play and a nine-game skid against ranked teams dating to a victory over No. 18 UCLA on Dec. 7, 2013.
The Tigers won their first three matchups against South Carolina since joining the SEC in 2012 before losing both meetings last season, including a 63-54 defeat in the SEC tournament first round.
South Carolina's Sindarius Thornwell compiled 32 points and 12 assists in the two wins but was held to a season-low two points by Alabama. Thornwell averaged 19.7 in the previous three games.