Oral Roberts-Missouri Preview

BY foxsports • December 16, 2010

Missouri had a more relaxed time in its most recent win after three straight games that went down to the wire.

Another subpar offensive performance against Oral Roberts could have the 13th-ranked Tigers sweating it out again.

The Golden Eagles pulled off a last-second victory over Missouri at home last season but will travel Thursday night to Mizzou Arena, where the Tigers have won 52 straight over non-conference foes.

Missouri (8-1) got to use 12 players - none played more than 23 minutes - during Saturday's 70-55 victory over Presbyterian after splitting two overtime games and nearly blowing a 20-point lead on the road. The Tigers' lone senior, Justin Safford, had a season-high 14 points and Kim English also scored 14, posting his fifth straight double-digit performance since being held scoreless Nov. 24 against La Salle.

"It's nice to have a chance to play a game like this because some of our guys have played a lot of minutes," guard Marcus Denmon said. "They give guys that normally aren't able to play as much a chance to do things and show coach that they're able to help us."

Denmon, averaging 18.7 points over the last six games, also scored in double figures for the sixth consecutive time with 12 points.

He scored a team-best 17 off the bench last season against Oral Roberts (4-5), but the Tigers shot 40.0 percent and allowed the Golden Eagles to rally from an eight-point deficit in the final 4:19 for a 60-59 win. That point total ties the second-lowest Missouri has scored in non-conference play over the past two-plus seasons.

The Tigers have not lost at home to a team outside the Big 12 since falling to Sam Houston State on Nov. 14, 2005.

Missouri will not have starting point guard Michael Dixon available after he was suspended indefinitely Wednesday for an unspecified violation of team rules. The sophomore is averaging 10.7 points and a team-high 4.3 assists.

Freshman Phil Pressey is expected to see more playing time in Dixon's absence.

Golden Eagles forward Michael Craion's layup with 0.9 seconds left was the difference last year against Missouri, but he enters the rematch still recovering from an injury that caused him to miss this season's first seven games. One of Oral Roberts' three Kansas City natives, Craion re-aggravated his surgically repaired right foot during an exhibition game and has played only 17 minutes in two games since returning.

While the Golden Eagles' second-leading scorer from last season continues to heal, Warren Niles has tried to pick up the slack, averaging 14.9 points. The sophomore guard scored a team-best 22 off the bench in Saturday's 73-60 loss at Oklahoma, one week after hitting a last-second shot in a 63-61 road win over IUPUI.

Dominique Morrison, who scored 21 in last season's victory over Missouri, is averaging a team-best 17.3 points. The native of Kansas City, Mo. scored 17 in his previous trip to Mizzou Arena on Nov. 30, 2008, but couldn't rally his team past the Tigers in a 92-83 loss.

This is the Golden Eagles' first game against a Top 25 opponent since beating then-No. 13 New Mexico on Dec. 23 as Craion and Morrison combined for 35 points. The team had lost 12 of its previous 13 versus ranked foes.

Missouri has never lost in three home games with Oral Roberts and holds a 5-1 series lead.


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