South Carolina-Missouri Preview


Missouri may have expected to struggle somewhat without Laurence Bowers, but the Tigers probably couldn't have foreseen what happened their last time out.

Coming off a 31-point loss, No. 22 Missouri will likely be without Bowers again as it tries to regroup in a home matchup with South Carolina on Tuesday night.

With their star forward missing a third straight game due to a sprained ligament in his right knee, the Tigers (13-4, 2-2 SEC) were blown out 83-52 at then-No. 10 Florida on Saturday.

Missouri shot 32.7 percent from the field, missed 18 of 24 from 3-point range and was outrebounded by 10. It also committed 21 turnovers which led to 34 points for Florida, had seven shots blocked and never found an offensive or defensive rhythm.

''A lot of the mistakes that we made were just mistakes that we made within ourselves,'' guard Keion Bell said. ''We didn't really execute. It was kind of what they were doing, but a lot of stuff was self-inflicted.''

Missouri has lost two of three without Bowers, who averages team highs of 16.8 points and 6.9 rebounds. The Tigers scored 49 points in losing their first game with him sidelined and have shot under 34.9 percent in the two defeats.

Phil Pressey, who leads the conference with 7.2 assists per game, had six Saturday but also finished with a season-low two points on 1-of-7 shooting while setting a career high with 10 turnovers.

"I thought he tried to take the game on,'' coach Frank Haith said. "In an environment and a game like this, you've really got to trust your teammates. I'm sure Phil will want to just get to the next one.''

Making matters worse for Missouri, Bell is also likely to sit out Tuesday after suffering a sprained ankle against the Gators. He's averaged 13.0 points in his last three games and had 14 in 23 minutes Saturday.

Plus, guard Earnest Ross will be a game-time decision after injuring his back last week.

The defeat was the Tigers' most lopsided since falling 100-63 to Kansas State on Feb. 16, 2008. That Wildcats team was coached by first-year Gamecocks coach Frank Martin.

Missouri has also reeled off 11 consecutive home victories, with their last loss at Mizzou Arena coming when Martin's Kansas State squad won 78-68 on Feb. 21 - the Tigers' only home defeat of 2011-12.

The Tigers have won their 10 home contests this season by an average of 21.9 points.

"Missouri's real good and we're getting ready to go in and deal with a dogfight here," Martin said. "We better play real, real, real good basketball. I've been in that arena - it's an incredible atmosphere."

South Carolina (11-6, 1-3) has dropped three of four following a 58-51 loss to Vanderbilt on Saturday. The Gamecocks shot 3 of 23 in the final 17 minutes of the first half and made 23.7 percent overall.

Brenton Williams, averaging a team-best 12.0 points, scored a game-high 16 but went 3 for 10 from the floor and has shot 23.3 percent (7 for 30) in his last four contests.

The Gamecocks were coming off an 82-73 overtime victory over LSU on Wednesday that snapped a 10-game road losing streak.

"It's a daily lesson with our team," Martin said. "We obviously didn't handle winning on the road very well."

South Carolina and Missouri will be meeting for the first time.