Columbia, MO – The 14th-ranked Missouri Tigers continue a three-game homestand to begin the 2012-13 season, as they welcome the Alcorn State Braves to the Mizzou Arena.
Frank Haith's Tigers bring back a talented core of players from a squad that posted 30 wins a year ago, including a 14-4 mark in their last season in the Big 12. Now the team looks to carry that success over into the SEC. The team looked sharp in its season-opener on Saturday, topping SIU-Edwardsville, 83-69.
The Braves are also 1-0 on the young season after routing Oakwood in their season-opener on Sunday, 85-41. Luther Riley is in his second season at the helm, after leading a reconstructed team to a 10-22 record in his first season with Alcorn State.
Missouri won the only previous meeting between these two teams, an 82-51 lopsided affair in 1981.
While the season-opener at Alcorn State counted as an exhibition for Oakwood, it was the real deal for the Braves, who jumped all over their foe, taking a 21-point lead into intermission. The team kept the pace going after the break, outscoring Oakwood 47-24 in the second stanza to run away with the victory. The backcourt tandem of senior Anthony Nieves and sophomore LeAntwan Luckett led the offensive charge in the win, with 18 and 15 points, respectively. Nieves is the team's top returning scorer, while a lot is expected of Luckett, who sat out last season. Coach Riley enjoys some serious leadership among his starting five, as four are seniors. The frontcourt will be led by a pair of seniors in forwards Ian Francis and Michale Starks. Juco transfers Stephane Raquil (6-10, 220) and Josh Nicholas (7-0 225) give the team big bodies down low, but the biggest body comes off the bench in freshman McDarion Abron (6-11, 285).
Coach Haith has another roster stocked with supreme talent and gets an addition with the return of standout forward Laurence Bowers, who missed last season with a knee injury. Bowers certainly made up for lost time in the season-opener against SIUE, posting a game-high 20 points to go along with seven rebounds. Fellow senior forward Alex Oriakhi played big as well, finishing with eight points and a whopping 15 rebounds. Standout junior guard Phil Pressey just missed a double-double, pouring in 19 points, while dishing out nine assists. Missouri held a 50-40 advantage on the boards, and shot a solid .471 from the field, including .586 in the second half. The scary thing is that Missouri isn't even at full strength yet, as one of its top performers, All-American candidate Michael Dixon Jr., is currently suspended to start the season. The squad will be bolstered by transfers Keion Bell (Saint Mary's) and Earnest Ross (Gonzaga), who saw their first action in the opener.