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Northwestern State (4-3) at (13) Missouri (6-0)



Friday, December 2nd, 8:00 p.m. (et)

The Sports Network

By Pat Taggart, Associate College Basketball Editor

FACTS & STATS: Site: Mizzou Arena (15,061) -- Columbia, Missouri. Television: MSN. Home Record: Northwestern St. 3-0, Missouri 4-0. Away Record: Northwestern St. 1-3, Missouri 0-0. Neutral Record: Northwestern St. 0-0, Missouri 2-0. Conference Record: Northwestern St. 0-0, Missouri 0-0. Series Record: Missouri leads, 1-0.

GAME NOTES: The 13th-ranked Missouri Tigers continue to rip through the non- conference portion of their schedule, and a matchup with the Northwestern State Demons is on the docket tonight in Columbia.

Northwestern State enters with a respectable 4-3 overall record thanks to wins in the team's last two outings. On Tuesday, the Demons had no trouble getting past Arkansas-Little Rock by an 80-65 final in front of the home crowd. Members of the Southland Conference, the Demons are a perfect 3-0 at home, but three of their four road affairs have ended in defeat.

As for the Tigers, they have yet to taste defeat, having won all six of their games thus far by double figures. Considering the fact that they beat Notre Dame and California on consecutive nights by a combined total of 68 points, this team has been tremendously impressive. Last Sunday, new head coach Frank Haith led Missouri to an 88-59 romp over Binghamton, and the squad has scored more than 80 points each time out.

Missouri won its only previous meeting with Northwestern State by an 81-72 final back in 2005.

James Hublin was tremendous for Northwestern State in the 15-point win over UALR last time out, as he scored 20 points off the bench on the strength of a 5-of-7 effort from three-point range. Louis Ellis added 11 points and Demetrice Jacobs tallied 10 points for the Demons, who tallied 22 points from the foul line and earned a 39-31 rebounding advantage. Through seven outings, Northwestern State is scoring (67.1 ppg) and surrendering (67.6 ppg) almost the exact same amount of points, and there is no doubt that the club needs to improve its field goal percentage (.393). The only player on the roster averaging double figures in scoring is Shamir Davis with 12.3 ppg, and none of his teammates are netting more than 8.7 ppg.

The Tigers have been tremendous at both ends of the court, as they are netting 85.7 ppg on 52 percent field goal efficiency, including 43.3 percent from three-point range. Defensively, they are holding foes to 58.8 ppg on 40.1 percent shooting and have forced 106 turnovers while committing a mere 55 of their own. Marcus Denmon is netting 18.5 ppg for Missouri to lead the way, while Kim English is close behind with his 18.2 ppg. Ricardo Ratliffe checks in with 12.5 ppg, and Michael Dixon nets 10.3 ppg off the bench. Phil Pressey is the fifth and final double-digit scorer in the mix with 10.2 ppg, and he is tops with 28 assists and 18 steals. In the 29-point victory over Binghamton last time out, English scored 29 points while Ratliffe added 18 points. The Tigers finished with 23 assists against only six turnovers and shot 54.8 percent from the field.

Missouri will overwhelm Northwestern State, as there is a huge disparity in talent between these two teams. A seventh consecutive double-digit victory to open the season is a certainty for the Tigers.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Missouri 87, Northwestern State 63

12/02 10:32:11 ET

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