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Mississippi-Missouri Preview

AP - Sports

Missouri has relied on its home dominance to compensate for a miserable road record.

Its unblemished mark at Mizzou Arena, however, is about to be tested.

The 21st-ranked Tigers will host two of the SEC's top teams in their next home games beginning with a first-ever visit from Mississippi on Saturday.

After dropping to 0-5 on the road with a 70-68 loss to Texas A&M on Thursday, Missouri (16-6, 5-4) returns to a building where it's 13-0 this season and 46-2 over the past three.

"If you look across the country, traditionally teams play better at home than they do on the road," coach Frank Haith said. "We're no different than any other team in the country."

The Tigers, though, have posted that perfect record in 2012-13 while facing mainly lackluster competition. Only four opponents - Tennessee State, Bucknell, Alabama and South Carolina - have winning records.

That will change quickly for Missouri as it will take on Ole Miss (18-4, 7-2) and conference leader Florida on Feb. 19 in its next two home games.

The Tigers will play back-to-back road contests between those games and if they can't quickly improve their dreadful record away from home, they'll likely have to try to grab the NCAA tournament committee's attention by beating the Rebels and Gators.

To earn those wins, Missouri could use better performances from two of its top players, Phil Pressey and Laurence Bowers.

Pressey, the SEC's preseason player of the year, is shooting a career-worst 36.7 percent and 29.6 from 3-point range. He is leading the SEC with 7.0 assists per game but has also proved prone to committing turnovers, ranking second in the league with 3.8 per contest.

Pressey had seven Thursday, including a bad pass in the final seconds that led to the Aggies' winning basket. Foul trouble limited Bowers to seven points in a season-low 12 minutes, but he hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 53 seconds left.

Bowers, averaging a team-best 15.5 points, missed the then-No. 10 Tigers' initial meeting with Ole Miss, a 64-49 loss on Jan. 12, because of a knee injury that kept him out for five games.

Without the senior forward from nearby Memphis, Missouri failed to score a point for the first 6:35 and never recovered. Murphy Holloway, meanwhile, led the Rebels with 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting.

After missing 21 of 30 shots in back-to-back losses, Holloway had a season-high 24 points while making nine of 12 attempts in Wednesday's 93-75 victory over Mississippi State.

SEC scoring leader Marshall Henderson (20.0 ppg) was even better with 31 points, one shy of matching his career high set Jan. 9, at Tennessee.

"We had to stop the bleeding," said Andy Kennedy, whose 143 wins are one shy of matching B.L. "Country" Graham (1950-62) for most in program history. "The first three weeks (of conference play) were really good to us. Week four was tough on a number of fronts."

Henderson, who has made 13 of his last 25 3-point attempts, had 11 points on 4-of-11 shooting against Missouri and was 2 of 8 from beyond the arc.

The status of senior guard Nick Williams is unknown after an ailing foot has caused him to miss the last two contests. Williams, averaging 9.4 points, started the season's first 12 games but has come off the bench in the last eight he's played.

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