No. 21 Tigers set sights on Aggies in SEC affair

Still seeking that elusive first road win of the season, the 21st-ranked Missouri Tigers invade Reed Arena on Thursday for an SEC showdown with the Texas A&M Aggies.

Frank Haith's squad has thrived in its own building and that is a huge reason the team is sitting at an impressive 26-5 on the year. However, the team has lost all four of its true road games. The Tigers were able to distance themselves from another road loss at LSU last week (73-70) with last weekend's 91-77 home win against Auburn. At 5-3 in SEC play, Missouri sits in fifth place in the conference, 2 1/2 games behind league-leading Florida.

Billy Kennedy's Aggies have had a rougher transition to the SEC. A solid non- conference record has been spoiled by A&M's struggles in-conference. The team is now 13-8 overall, losing five of its last six games to fall to 3-5 in the SEC. This past weekend, the Aggies gave defending national champion Kentucky all it could handle, falling 72-68 in overtime.

These two former Big 12 members are meeting for the first time as SEC foes. Missouri holds a 13-10 series advantage thanks to a pair of wins last year. A&M had won eight straight prior to last season.

Missouri flexed its offensive muscles against Auburn last weekend, shooting a sizzling .545 from the floor in the game en route to 91 points. Keion Bell and Earnest Ross were unstoppable in the win, netting 24 and 23 points, respectively. Laurence Bowers added 12 points, while Alex Oriakhi and Jabari Brown finished with 11 points apiece. Point guard Phil Pressey chipped in a mere four points, but was much more competent in terms of assists, with 10.

Strong offensive performances are nothing new for Missouri, which ranks among the nation's best in scoring at 76.0 ppg (30th nationally). Five Tigers are currently averaging double figures, with a sixth right under that mark. Bowers, who has missed time due to injury, is once again a stabilizing force in the frontcourt. The 6-foot-8 senior is shooting .574 from the field and is averaging 16.1 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. Oriakhi gives the team another low post presence at 10.4 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. Perimeter scoring comes in the form of Brown (15.1 ppg), Pressey (12.1 ppg), Ross (10.7 ppg) and Bell (9.8 ppg). Pressey is also one of the nation's premier distributors, doling out 7.2 apg (seventh nationally).

Elston Turner had 21 points, but Texas A&M failed to earn the win over Kentucky in overtime. The Aggies were able to close out regulation on a little run that tied things up, but Kentucky opened the extra session with a run of its own (7-1) and pulled out the win. Fabyon Harris and Ray Turner also finished in double figures in the loss with 14 and 12 points, respectively. Ray Turner posted a double-double with a team-high 11 rebounds.

The Aggies lack the offensive firepower to win a shootout with Missouri. Texas A&M is averaging a modest 63.1 ppg, but has been much more effective on the defensive end, limiting foes to just 59.4 ppg, while earning a +3.1 rebounding margin. Elston Turner is by far the team's top offensive threat, He leads the team in scoring at 15.7 ppg, helped by a team-high 49 3-pointers. Harris is next in the scoring column at 11.0 ppg. Ray Turner is the team's best option in the frontcourt, delivering on 55.2 percent of his shots and averaging 9.8 points and 6.1 rebounds per game.