(AP) — Missouri struggled during its first Big 12 road game. Trying to get a win in its next one might prove even more difficult.
The 15th-ranked Tigers will face No. 14 Texas A&M, which has won 12 straight and seeks its best start in 91 seasons Saturday.
Missouri trailed by as much as 18 in the second half of an 89-76 loss at Colorado on Jan. 8. The Tigers shot 40.6 percent in that game and were only slightly better (42.4 percent) in a 77-69 home win over Nebraska on Wednesday night.
Marcus Denmon, though, hit five 3-pointers and matched a career high with 27 points. Missouri’s leading scorer (17.6 ppg) had 14 in the loss to Colorado.
The Tigers (15-2, 1-1) have suffered both of their defeats this season away from home and have dropped four straight at Reed Arena, where the Aggies (15-1, 2-0) have won 12 in a row and 28 of 29.
Texas A&M has also matched its best start under coach Mark Turgeon set in 2007-08, and the only better start was the 1919-20 team that went 19-0.
“In this conference, trying to get a win is so hard on the road,” Denmon said. “Texas A&M is a good team, but we’ve been working hard on the things we need to work on.”
While Missouri has been uneven to start Big 12 play, Texas A&M has won its two games by a combined 41 points thanks in large part to some impressive defense. The Aggies routed Oklahoma State 71-48 on Wednesday night by holding the Cowboys to 19 points in the second half.
“I think it’s a big confidence booster,” forward Nathan Walkup said. “Oklahoma State is a good team. We’ve got to keep carrying it over.”
The Aggies, on their longest win streak since a school-record 25-game run from 1919-21, are among the nation’s best in allowing 55.7 points on 37.7 percent shooting. Turgeon, however, knows his team could face a challenge in the fast-paced Tigers, who are among the NCAA scoring leaders (85.2 ppg).
“What you see on Saturday will be more of the finesse game. Our guard play is going to have to be better,” Turgeon said.
David Loubeau scored 12 of his 17 points in the second half last season at Missouri to help the Aggies escape with a 77-74 win. Texas A&M had its eight-point lead with 1:09 remaining cut to one with 14 seconds left on Kim English’s 3-pointer.
B.J. Holmes hit a pair of free throws with 10 seconds to go and the Tigers missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer.
Khris Middleton, who leads the Aggies with 15.0 points per game, had 16 off the bench in that victory, while Denmon scored nine – also as a reserve.
The junior guard has a combined 10 points in his two matchups with Texas A&M but that could change this season.
“(Denmon) is healthy now and playing with a lot more confidence,” coach Mike Anderson said. “He is bringing it every night. He is an emerging leader on the team.”
The Aggies won 96-86 in the previous matchup at Reed Arena on March 7, 2009, and have averaged 93.7 points in the past three games there against the Tigers.
Texas A&M can post the longest win in the streak in the series with a victory Saturday. Missouri, which leads the series 11-8, won six in a row from Feb. 14, 1998-Jan. 16, 2002.