Kennesaw State (2-5) at (10) Missouri (9-0)
Thursday, December 15th, 8:00 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Scott Haynes, Senior College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Mizzou Arena (15,061) -- Columbia, Missouri. Television: MSN. Home Record: Kennesaw St. 1-1, Missouri 5-0. Away Record: Kennesaw St. 1-4, Missouri 0-0. Neutral Record: Kennesaw St. 0-0, Missouri 3-0. Conference Record: Kennesaw St. 0-2, Missouri 0-0. Series Record: First- ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The 10th-ranked Missouri Tigers seek a 10-0 start to a season for just the eighth time in school history, as they welcome the Kennesaw State Owls to the Mizzou Arena for a non-conference matchup this evening.
Frank Haith's first season in Columbia couldn't have started better, as the Tigers have won each of their first nine games, with every one of them coming by double digits. The team was last in action on Saturday, when it routed Navy, 84-59.
Lewis Preston is also in his first season with his new team, but his debut campaign has not started well. Kennesaw State has just two wins in seven outings thus far and bring a three-game losing streak into this contest, including a 75-52 decision against Lipscomb last time out.
This is the first-ever meeting between these two programs. Missouri is 9-1 all-time against members of the Atlantic Sun Conference.
The Owls kept within reach of Lipscomb for much of the first half, but the Bison went on a 12-0 run towards the end of the first half and never allowed Kennesaw State back in the game. The Owls were held under 40 percent shooting for the third straight game, as the fell to 0-2 in A-Sun action. Markeith Cummings registered his seventh career double-double in the loss with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Nick Turner added 10 points, while Aaron Anderson grabbed a career-high 13 boards. The Owls are saddled with a -15.7 scoring margin this year, allowing teams to net 76.4 ppg. Cummings has been the go-to- guy at the offensive end, averaging a healthy 18.2 ppg. Spencer Dixon is the only other current double-digit threat at 13.3 ppg.
The Tigers have dominated at both ends of the floor this season, as evidenced by their inflated +25.6 scoring margin. The team is shooting 50.9 percent from the floor and putting up 85.4 ppg, while holding opponents under 40 percent shooting accuracy and a mere 59.9 ppg. Marcus Denmon and Kim English are a potent backcourt tandem. Denmon leads Missouri with 21.3 ppg on the strength of 53.3 percent shooting overall and 49.2 percent from behind the arc. English pours in 16.2 ppg and is shooting even better (.563 overall, .545 from three- point range). The duo have combined for 61 of the team's 81 three-pointers to date. Ricardo Ratliffe provides frontcourt balance at 14.2 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. Michael Dixon gives the team a spark off the bench with 10.1 ppg. Missouri shot 49.1 percent from the floor to blow past the Midshipmen last weekend. All five starters finished in double figures, led by Denmon's 22 points. Ratliffe added 14 points and eight rebounds, while English, Matt Pressey and Phil Pressey tacked on 13, 12 and 11 points, respectively.
The Owls have struggled to find their range of late and that certainly doesn't bode well against a Missouri team that gets the job done at both ends. Expect Denmon and company to exploit Kennesaw State's porous defense, en route to yet another lopsided victory.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Missouri 87, Kennesaw State 51
12/15 10:32:40 ET