The Missouri Tigers basketball team seems to be lost in the shuffle locally, as well as nationally. Well, the Tigers are undefeated at 10-0, and are facing the Illinois Fighting Illini (9-2) Saturday afternoon.
Playing in the shadow of a football team that played in the SEC Championship game, the Tigers’ basketball team has been flying under radar. The Tigers have some very nice wins to go with their number 23 ranking, They have beaten Nevada, West Virginia, and UCLA thus far this season, plus they have this match up with Illinois, and a tilt with North Carolina State next week.
Missouri may actually be one of the top three teams in the SEC.
With the Tigers making a noise on both the gridiron and on the hardwood, people should be paying more attention as the school has quickly become a force in the SEC in just their second year as a member. Locally, they just don’t seem to get the attention they received when they played in the Big 12. Whether it is the lack of a hated rival, like Kansas, or if fans are just not geographically connected with the SEC yet, fans should start giving Missouri more notice.
The Tigers are led in scoring by junior guard Jordan Clarkson, who is good for 19.4 points a game. Right behind Clarkson, with 19.0 tallies a game is junior guard Jabari Brown. Senior guard Earnest Ross pitches in with 14.2 a contest.
Freshman forward Johnathan Williams III has made his presence known early as he leads the team with 8.4 rebounds a game to go with his 6.5 points. Clarkson also tops the team with 3.9 assists, while Ross has 13 steals, and Williams III, 16 blocked shots to pace the Tigers.
Missouri is 57th in the country in scoring, averaging 79 points a game, while they gather in 40.8 rebounds a contest, good for 30th in the nation. The Tigers are hitting 49.7% of their field goal attempts, which is the 19th best percentage in the NCAA.
This game with Illinois may be the biggest rivalry game on Missouri’s basketball schedule this season, and it should be a good game against a solid Fighting Illini squad that only gives up 60 points a game.
Illinois has only given up more than 70 points all season. Oregon, in Illinois’ last game, a 71-64 Ducks’ win, is the only instance the Illini have seen an opponent score more than 67 points.
It seems the Fighting Illini like to play typical Big 10 basketball – sluggish and physical.
The Tigers will tip off against the Fighting Illini Saturday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. CST in St. Louis at the Scotttrade Center. The game can be seen on ESPN 2 and can be watched online at WatchESPN.
Fans in Kansas City seemed a little slow hopping on board when the football team was winning early, and there isn’t a lot of Missouri chatter on the local sports radio either, despite the undefeated record in basketball. The Tigers deserve your attention, and if they keep playing well, and winning ball games, that spotlight will come.