Playing their first true road game of the ranked Missouri Tigers pull into Norfolk, Virginia for this conference clash with the Monarchs of Old Dominion.
Missouri is one of a handful of teams still undefeated at this point in the campaign, as the team's 12-0 start is its best since the 1981-82 team began the year 19-0. The Tigers have certainly exceeded expectations thus far, as even first-year head coach Frank Haith couldn't have imagined a better start. The team's signature wins through the first dozen games have come against major conference foes in Notre Dame, California, Villanova and Illinois. Mizzou kicks off Big 12 Conference action at home versus Oklahoma next Tuesday.
Old Dominion is an even 6-6 on the year, and the team stopped a three-game slide in its most recent outing, getting past visiting VMI on December 22 in an 81-73 final. The Monarchs have already played one Colonial Athletic Association game, winning at Northeastern (69-59) on December 3. The team will get into its league slate full bore following this clash, as it visits James Madison on Monday. ODU's last win over a Big 12 foe was a 62-51 verdict versus Kansas State in Norfolk in 2000, and its last victory over a ranked opponent was a 61-57 decision at No. 11 Georgetown during the 2009-10 campaign.
Missouri, which is the second-highest ranked team ever to visit the Ted Constant Convocation Center, has won its four previous meetings with ODU, the most recent of which was an 81-56 decision in Columbia last season.
Missouri has gotten the job done at both ends of the court this season, as the club currently leads the Big 12 in eight different statistical categories: scoring offense (87.1 ppg), scoring margin (+25.8), free throw percentage (.783), field goal percentage (.519), assists (16.9 apg), steals (10.0 spg), turnover margin (+7.1) and assist-turnover ratio (1.8). The Tigers boast four double-digit scorers, with Marcus Denmon leading the way with 18.7 ppg. Kim English (15.3 ppg, 4.3 rpg), Ricardo Ratliffe (14.3 ppg, 6.9 rpg) and key reserve Michael Dixon (13.1 ppg, 3.3 apg) round out the offensive-minded quartet for Mizzou, which yields just 61.3 ppg on a typical shooting effort of only 40.7 percent. Phil Pressey has also shined this season, as he is netting 9.4 ppg while handing out 5.9 apg. Pressey tallied 18 points, five assists and a couple of steals to lead Missouri to a 78-74 win over Illinois in St. Louis last week. Dixon scored 18 points as well, while Ratliffe finished with 14 points in just 19 minutes of action. Matt Pressey chipped in with 10 points for the Tigers, who made good on 44.1 percent of their field goal attempts, which included seven three-pointers. The Illini shot 50 percent from the floor overall, but just 25 percent from beyond the arc, and they committed 17 turnovers while being outscored at the foul line, 19-8.
Old Dominion isn't anywhere near the explosive offensive team its counterpart tonight is, but the Monarchs have four players averaging at least 9.4 ppg, and they win the rebounding battle most nights while committing fewer turnovers per game than does their opponents. Still, the team is shooting just 38.7 percent from the field, and knocking down only 26.7 percent of its three-point tries. Kent Bazemore is ODU's top scorer coming into this contest, as he is netting 13.2 ppg despite shooting a mere 34.9 percent from the floor. He has missed 47 of his 61 three-point attempts (.230), but he has collected a team- high 32 steals despite committing a club-worst 40 turnovers. Chris Cooper (10.8 ppg, 9.8 rpg) and Dimitri Batten (10.0 ppg) are the only other double- digit scorers at the moment, with the former pacing the Monarchs' rebounding effort while also logging a team-high 13 blocks. Bazemore scored 18 points to lead five players in double figures, as ODU topped VMI last week by eight points. Cooper notched a double-double with 10 points and 12 boards for the Monarchs, who shot just 41.8 percent from the field, but claimed a 29-17 edge in points from the charity stripe while also logging a resounding 51-27 advantage on the glass.