Central Arkansas (3-7) at (13) Missouri (9-1)
Saturday, December 18th, 8:00 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Gregg Xenakes, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Mizzou Arena (15,061) -- Columbia, Missouri. Television: MSN. Home Record: UCA 2-2, Missouri 6-0. Away Record: UCA 0-4, Missouri 1-0. Neutral Record: UCA 1-1, Missouri 2-1. Conference Record: UCA 0-0, Missouri 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The Bears of Central Arkansas again shoot for their first true road win of the 2010-11 campaign as they contend with the 13th-ranked Missouri Tigers in Columbia.
UCA has a total of three wins so far on the season, but only one of those came against a Division I opponent in Chicago State eight days ago, 85-73. The only other triumphs for the program, which is run these days by former Arkansas standout Corliss Williamson, came against Hendrix (87-46) and Champion Baptist (100-29) which helped to boost a few stats. Most recently the Bears were taken down by Grambling in a 70-60 final last weekend, the defeat being the fifth in the last six outing for the group.
As for the Tigers, they were just in action two nights ago and managed to log an 81-62 win over Oral Roberts at home. The victory was the fourth in a row and the ninth in 10 tries so far this season for a Missouri team that lost to Georgetown in overtime late last month, 111-102. Off the hardwood, the Tigers are dealing with the indefinite suspension of guard Michael Dixon who violated a team rule and leaves the team without his 10.7 points, 4.3 assists and 2.4 steals per game for the time being.
With respect to the all-time series between these two schools on the hardwood, this is the first-ever meeting.
As part of the 2010 Etech Lumberjack Classic, the Bears dug themselves a considerable hole in the first half when they shot a miserable 7-of-32 from the floor and trailed by 15 points at the break versus Grambling. Once the smoke had cleared, UCA had converted just 34.4 percent from the floor and turned the ball over 15 times in the double-digit loss. Mark Rutledge led three players in double figures with his 14 points on 6-of-13 shooting from the floor, followed by Imad Qahwash and Tadre Sheppard with 12 and 10 points, respectively. A reserve in all 10 games thus far for the Bears, Qahwash leads this group in scoring with his 11.8 ppg as he shoots 49.3 percent from the field and an impressive 83.7 percent at the free-throw line. Chris Henson (10.0 ppg) is not only the squad's top rebounder with better than five and a half rebounds per game, he is also a solid perimeter shooter as well at 41.7 percent.
Without Dixon in the lineup, the Tigers turned to Phil Pressey who filled in with eight points and more importantly, seven assists to keep the Missouri machine rolling along on Thursday night. Laurence Bowers led four starters in double figures with his 17 points, followed by Marcus Denmon with 16 on just 7-of-16 shooting from the field. Kim English and Ricardo Ratliffe both added 10 points for the Tigers as they overwhelmed an Oral Roberts group that ended up shooting just 13-of-49 from the floor and having more turnovers (19) than made baskets (13). Denmon maintains his place atop the scoring list for Missouri with his 16.4 ppg, converting not just 50 percent from the floor overall but also 27-of-54 behind the three-point line to give the Tigers a huge threat on the perimeter. Ratliffe (11.7 ppg) and Bowers (11.1 ppg) give the group punch in the paint with a combined 13.9 rpg at the moment. As one of the top scoring teams in the nation at this stage of the season, the Tigers are generating close to 83 ppg, but at the same time the opposition it producing a generous 70.5 ppg as well.
Missouri might not be at full strength right now, but to take out the Bears the hosts don't really need to be anyway. Expect a lopsided outcome of epic proportions if the Tigers choose to exercise their superiority.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Missouri 84, Central Arkansas 51
12/18 10:32:21 ET