SC State-Missouri Preview

The Associated Press

After a nine-day layoff, Missouri expects to have an exciting new addition when it returns to the court.

Highly touted transfer Jabari Brown will be eligible to make his first appearance for the No. 12 Tigers on Monday night when they host South Carolina State.

After averaging 6.0 points in 25 1/2 minutes in two games at Oregon in 2011-12, Brown decided to transfer to Missouri following the first semester last season.

"I'm hoping to provide a burst of energy," Brown said. "I'm a competitor, a guy who can knock down shots and create for my teammates."

The redshirt sophomore guard was a Jordan All-American coming out of Oakland High School after totaling 23.8 points per game as a senior.

"He will not start, I can tell you that,'' Missouri coach Frank Haith said. "But he'll get some court time.''

In some ways, Brown's much anticipated debut might feel like a fresh start for the entire Missouri team. The Tigers (8-1) had a week off for final exams after easing past Tennessee State 68-38 on Dec. 8.

Missouri returns to the court seeking a fifth straight victory since its only defeat, 84-61 to then-No. 2 Louisville on Nov. 23.

The Tigers also have a chance to improve to 9-1 for the third season in a row and win their 24th consecutive game in December. They also will be after a 72nd straight home victory against nonconference opponents, a streak that dates to the 2005-06 opener.

After finishing with 18 points and 10 rebounds against Tennessee State, senior forward Laurence Bowers has averaged 22.3 points on 61.4 percent shooting in his last three games.

Bowers, the team leader with 16.9 points per contest, has made 6 of 8 from 3-point range during that stretch.

"He's been real consistent,'' Haith said. "And he's been our go-to guy thus far this season. But I do think we have a number of guys who can score."

Haith also has players who can crash the boards. Alex Oriakhi leads one of the nation's top rebounding clubs at 8.3 per game.

The Tigers dominated Tennessee State 52-27 on the glass, leaving them second nationally with 45.9 per game and fourth with a plus-13.2 rebounding margin.

That could spell trouble for a South Carolina State team that has a minus-7.2 rebounding margin over its last seven games.

The Bulldogs (4-6) were outrebounded for a seventh straight contest and lost their third in a row, falling 70-61 at Albany on Wednesday.

Matthew Hezekiah led the way with 18 points and eight rebounds for South Carolina State, which has three players averaging at least 12.2 points.

Khalif Toombs (14.1 points) and Adama Adams (14.0) will try to bounce back after combining for 13 on 6-of-18 shooting against Albany.

The Bulldogs have a 37.3 shooting percentage over their last three games after connecting on 46.4 in their first seven.

It doesn't figure to get any easier against the Tigers, who held Tennessee State to 23.8 percent (15 of 63) from the floor.

Missouri ranks 17th in the nation in field goal percentage defense (36.7) and has held eight of nine opponents below 42.0 percent.

South Carolina State is 0-18 all-time against ranked opponents, losing by an average of 27.6 points.

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