Mizzou closing out season with tough matchup

(KSDK Sports) -- The Missouri Tigers will close out Mizzou Arena for the season on Wednesday night when they take on the Texas A&M Aggies in an SEC showdown.

Texas A&M has been on the rise in recent weeks with wins in three of its last four games, all at home, including a 71-60 triumph over Ole Miss on Saturday to improve to 17-12 overall and 8-8 in the league. In fact, while the Aggies are an outstanding 16-2 in College Station, they have gone a mere 1-7 in true road games.

Missouri has also seen a large disparity between its success at home (14-2) versus on the road (3-6) this season. The Tigers bounced back from a two-game slide on Saturday with an 85-66 victory over Mississippi State to improve to 8-8 in the SEC and 20-9 overall, the squad's third straight 20-win season under head coach Frank Haith and sixth straight overall.

Missouri leads the all-time series with Texas A&M, 14-11, most recently claiming a 62-50 decision in last season's SEC Tournament.

The Aggies went into intermission of their most recent contest tied up with Ole Miss but quickly took control in the second half on their way to the 11- point victory. They made up for a poor performance at the free-throw line (9- of-17) by shooting 50.9 percent from the field, and they played great defense as well by holding the high-scoring Rebels to only 36.1 percent shooting (including just 7-of-31 from 3-point range). Jamal Jones netted a game-high 21 points, Jordan Green and Kourtney Roberson poured in 16 and 13 points, respectively, while Alex Caruso tallied seven points, seven rebounds and nine assists.

Texas A&M's success this season has been largely predicated on its outstanding defense, as it allows opponents to shoots just 40.1 percent from the field for a lowly 62.5 ppg, which allows the squad to mask an underwhelming offense (.428, 64.9 ppg). Jones scores 12.9 ppg, and that average has jumped up to 15.5 in league play, but he's shooting only 37 percent from the field. Roberson (9.7 ppg, 6.7 rpg) and Caruso (8.4 ppg, 4.8 apg) are also regular contributors.

The Tigers opened up a 13-point lead over Mississippi State at the half over the weekend but the game on cruise control from that point forward en route to the easy home victory, shooting a blistering 62.3 percent from the field in the process. Jabari Brown paced all scorers with 21 points to go with five rebounds and five assists. Jordan Clarkson scored 14 points and dished out seven assists, Keanau Post shot 6-of-6 from the field for a career-high 14 points off the bench, while Earnest Ross added 11 points.

Missouri boasts a stellar offensive attack this season, shooting 46.6 percent from the field (including 36.3 percent from 3-point range) for 74.6 ppg, which is usually enough to support a modest defensive effort (69.3 ppg). Brown is the SEC's leading scorer with 20.1 ppg, as he shoots 74-of-172 from beyond the arc (.430) and 159-of-200 at the free-throw line (.795) and has scored in double digits in every game. Clarkson (18.4 ppg, 3.6 rpg) is a standout second option, while Ross (14.2 ppg) rounds out one of the nation's best scoring trios.

Texas A&M has the defensive attack to slow down Missouri, but with the Tigers' success at home matched up against an Aggies squad that has floundered on the road, expect Missouri to overtake A&M in the standings in this one.


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