The occupants of the SEC basement square off Tuesday night in Colonial Life Arena. Last place Missouri (7-16, 1-9) enters Colonial Life Arena riding a nine-game losing streak while their opponent is nursing a disappointing loss that created their own losing streak.
South Carolina has lost two in a row, dropping their record to .500 for the season (11-11) and a lackluster 2-8 in the SEC. The latest setback came this past weekend when the Gamecocks saw a double-figure lead vanish after an 18-0 Vanderbilt run in the second half. The Commodores never looked back and cruised to a 65-50 home win. Sindarius Thornwell led USC with 12 points and Duane Notice, hampered by foul trouble, shot 4-of-6 from the field for 10 points and was absent during Vandy's rush to the lead. The 'Dores outrebounded South Carolina 33-20 and held the Gamecocks to a season-low four offensive rebounds.
USC has been undermanned over the last two weeks but got one player back from injury on Saturday. Sophomore forward Demetrius Henry returned from a concussion and played 21 minutes, not contributing much, but it will only be beneficial to have another scholarship athlete available. Sophomore guard Justin McKie missed his fourth straight game with a concussion and freshman wing Shamiek Sheppard missed his second straight after undergoing a procedure on his right knee. There is no sense as to whether or not either will be available Tuesday night, the Gamecocks may just have to continue to go with what they got, but their opponent will also be shorthanded.
During South Carolina's match-up with Vanderbilt, Missouri announced that freshman guards Montaque Gil-Caesar and Namon Wright had been suspended for a violation of team rules. Gil-Caesar was a high school teammate of Andrew Wiggins at Huntington Prep but both he and Wright were four-star recruits in their own right in the Class of 2014, according to Rivals.com. They both contribute to the Tigers this season with MGC averaging 9.6 points and 2.9 rebounds per game while Wright adds 5.5 points per game and 2.1 rebounds per game. The Tigers only have two players averaging in double-figures so the loss of MGC as potential third scoring option will be significant for a team that already struggles on offense.
There are more accurate ways to measure offense but Missouri scores the least points per game in the SEC, 61.3 PPG, and that's a mark that ranks 314th nationally. Whether it's cut-and-dry like that or an analytically driven stat, the Tigers are a bad offensive team. As I mentioned before, they have two players that average double figures: Johnathan WIlliams III (12.0 PPG) and Wes Clark (10.0 PPG). Williams average is just a hair above 10 a game in SEC play but Clark took the scoring load most recently, going for 15 in a loss this weekend at Texas A&M.
Regardless of the absentees on both teams, South Carolina should have a field day against this team. They boast the third best defense in the conference, and one of the teams ahead of them (Kentucky) in that department, is scratching at the echelon of being one of the greatest defensive teams of all-time.
South Carolina is at home where as we all know they tend to be a different team and much of the distinction comes on the offensive end. In front of the fourth best attendance in the SEC, the Gamecocks shoot 43 percent from the field, as opposed to 36 percent on the road, and score overall at a much higher rate. Not that we have a road record to boast about, but Missouri has yet to win a road game all season.
In Kim Anderson's first year at the helm, his Tigers lone SEC win came in the league opener at home against LSU.
This is only the fourth meeting all-time between the schools and the previous three all came in the last two seasons when the Tigers joined the SEC.. Missouri has won all three up to this point, including the last meeting, a 82-74 win in January 2014 in Columbia, Mo.
The game will be broadcast on the SEC Network at 7pm ET where Dari Nowkhah and Joe Dean Jr. will have the call.