The 13th-ranked Missouri Tigers and the Stanford Cardinal are set for a Thanksgiving Day showdown in the opening round of the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament in the Bahamas.
The winner will advance to play either Louisville or Northern Iowa in the semifinals, with the losers facing off in the consolation bracket.
Missouri opened its season with a 3-0 homestand, defeating SIU-Edwardsville (83-69), Alcorn State (91-54) and Nicholls State (74-54). This bout marks the second time the Tigers will travel outside the United State this year, as they played a five-game exhibition tour of Amsterdam, Belgium and Paris this past summer.
Stanford also got off to a 3-0 start with double-digit wins over San Francisco (74-62), Cal State Fullerton (81-68), and Alcorn State (69-51). The Cardinal is coming into the tournament on a losing note however after falling to Belmont in their home gym on Nov. 18, 70-62.
This will mark the first-ever meeting between these two programs.
Missouri has barely broken a sweat this season in its three wins, scoring 82.7 ppg while also putting up outstanding numbers at the defensive end in holding opponents to just 59.0 ppg on less than 34 percent field goal efficiency. Despite their early dominance, the Tigers could use some improvement upon their mediocre field goal percentage (.428) now that the competition is beginning to get more stiff. In the 20-point win over Nicholls State the last time out, Alex Oriakhi led the way with 17 points and 10 rebounds, with Earnest Ross next in line with 16 points on 3-of-4 shooting from three-point range. Oriakhi (12.3 ppg, 11.7 rpg) has posted double-doubles in two of the first three games, while Ross (13.3 ppg) connects on better than 55 percent of his field goal attempts. The Tigers' balanced scoring attack is led by Phil Pressey and Laurence Bowers, who each net 15.3 ppg.
Stanford has gotten off to a 3-1 start despite allowing its opponents to shoot a higher percentage from the field (.397) than it does (.394). The secret to the Cardinal's success has been the edge it holds on the glass (plus-5.5 rebounding margin) and in the takeaway battle (plus-4.8 turnover margin). Against Belmont, however, it was a struggle in just about every way, as the team shot a lowly 31 percent from the floor while committing 17 turnovers in the home loss. Stefan Nastic and Christian Sanders each scored 11 points, and while Josh Huestis mustered just four points, he made a big splash in the paint with 14 rebounds and eight blocked shots -- both career-highs. Chasson Randle is the team's leading scorer on the season (13.0 ppg), but he shoots just 31.3 percent from the field. Dwight Powell (12.3 ppg, 7.3 rpg) and Huestis (10.5 ppg, 9.0 rpg) are much more efficient at better than 51 percent.