On Wednesday evening (7:00 P.M., MSN), the #9/#8 Missouri Tigers (13-1) play host to the North Alabama Lions (6-8). After having had a couple of weeks off, North Alabama comes into Mizzou Arena following a 96-75 win over Arkansas-Monticello, and a 81-64 win over Southern Arkansas, earlier this week.
Under sixth-year Head Coach, Bobby Champagne, North Alabama is a rising D-II program, with a couple of national tournament appearances. Coach Champagne has been playing a regular rotation of about 10 players, and he's probably going to need all of them, to try to keep up with Missouri. North Alabama hasn't faced anyone this season with anywhere near the caliber of athletes they'll face against Missouri.
North Alabama features four players who are scoring in double-figures, including 6'0" junior G Beaumont Beasley (12.4 points/game, 4.1 rebounds/game, 4 assists/game), who is originally from Kansas City, MO, where he played basketball with Missouri's Marcus Denmon, at Lincoln Prep, before Denmon transferred to Hogan Prep, following his sophomore year.
Rounding out North Alabama's scoring leaders are 6'1" junior F Warrick Mastin (10.5 points/game), 6'2" senior G Ricky Davison (14.4 points/game), and 6'6" junior C Marcus Landry (11.1 points/game, 7.6 rebounds/game). Beasley, Mastin, and Davison do most of their scoring from outside, and when those three have been accurate from outside the arc, the Lions have roared.
For Missouri, North Alabama is a final test run, or tune-up, before heading into conference play. Hopefully for Missouri, the Tigers will get after the Lions from the outset, and further establish the habit of playing with intensity on the defensive end, as they prepare for what will be a rigorous Big 12 schedule.
Missouri's leading scorer, junior G Marcus Denmon was just named the Big 12's Player of the Week, for the second time this season. The highly efficient Denmon scored 46 points in 54 minutes last week, while averaging 1.7 points per field goal attempt. On the season, Denmon is averaging 17.6 points/game, 3.9 rebounds/game, 2 assists/game, and 2 steals/game. And, while those are terrific numbers, it is the efficiency with which Denmon plays that is his greatness. Denmon's 51% 3-PT FG%, 85% FT%, and 2.2 A/T ratio are just a glimpse into how efficiently Denmon has been playing.
Junior forwards Ricardo Ratliffe (12.2 points/game, 7.1 rebounds/game) and Laurence Bowers (11.7 points/game, 5.7 rebounds/game, 2.2 blocked shots/game) give the Tigers a dynamic front court duo. Coming off of the bench for Missouri, is senior F Justin Safford (7.4 points/game, 4.2 rebounds/game), who is still recovering from the knee surgery he underwent last spring, and is improving steadily.
Pressey was just named Big 12 Rookie of the Week for his performance in last week's victories over Northern Illinois and Old Dominion. On the week, Pressey averaged 16.5 points and 5.0 rebounds in the two games.
During the non-conference season, Missouri has posted some impressive statistics, including scoring 85.6 points/game, while holding opponents to an average of 67.9 points/game. The Tigers are forcing opponenets into 20 turnovers/game, and are collecting 10 steals/game. Missouri is averaging 18.4 assists/game, and own a collective 1.4 A/T ratio. As a team, the Tigers are shooting 39% from behind the 3-PT line, and are hitting 71% of their FTs.
Missouri N. Alabama
FGM: 439 316
FGA: 903 711
FG %: .486 .444
3pt FGM: 106 97
3pt FGA: 275 254
3FG %: .385 .382
FTM: 214 212
FTA: 301 321
FT % .711 .660
Points: 1198 941
Per Game: 85.6 72.4
Reb./Gm 36.3 35.5
Steals 10.3 7.2
Assists: 18.4 11.4
Blocks: 5.2 2.2