USA TODAY Sports
Mizzou prepares for its annual clash with Illinois in Monday's game against the 4-6 Bulldogs.
The No. 12 Missouri Tigers (8-1) face South Carolina State (4-6) Monday, in their final tuneup before a tough three-game non-conference stretch and their first year of play in the SEC. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. CT, with television coverage on ESPN3 and ESPN Full Court.
Missouri has won four straight games since a Nov. 23 loss to Louisville at the Battle 4 Atlantis. Its last three victories have been by 16 or more points. The Tigers are second nationally in rebounding, led by senior forwards Alex Oriakhi (10.8 ppg, 8.3 rpg) and Laurence Bowers (16.9 ppg, 6.9 rpg). Point guard Phil Pressey leads the team in minutes played, and has contributed 13.0 points and 5.8 assists per game.
South Carolina State has struggled through three consecutive losses to Norfolk State, Maryland and Albany. The Bulldogs' magic number is 74: They have not won a game in which they scored less than 74 points, and have yet to lose a game in which they scored 74 or more. Senior guard Khalif Tooms leads the team in points (14.1 ppg), assists (4.9 apg) and minutes (36.8 mpg). 6'11 junior center Matthew Hezekiah (12.2 ppg, 8.0 rpg) and freshman forward Darryl Palmer (7.7 ppg, 5.4 rpg) patrol the paint for SCSU.
Monday's game is Missouri's last before the annual "Braggin' Rights" game against Illinois in St. Louis. The Tigers complete their non-conference schedule with a trip to UCLA and a home game against 9-1 Bucknell.