After another tough road loss last time out, Missouri coach Frank Haith reminded reporters it's a long season - but it's getting shorter for the Tigers, who need to start a resumé-building winning streak when they host South Carolina in a Southeastern Conference matchup Saturday. Missouri nearly made it through the non-conference season unscathed but has lost three of its first five SEC games. The Tigers have a great opportunity to bounce back against the Gamecocks, who have dropped five straight to start league play.
The Tigers have found themselves in a bunch of close games lately, with 10 of their last 11 contests decided by 10 points or fewer - including four losses by a combined 16 points. "It's just something you've got to get over now," Missouri guard Jordan Clarkson told reporters after a 77-70 loss at LSU on Tuesday. "It's been happening too many times." South Carolina coach Frank Martin is a familiar foe for the Tigers from his time at Kansas State - one of Missouri's former Big 12 rivals - and is 6-6 overall against the Tigers and 1-5 in Mizzou Arena.
TV: 4 p.m. ET, SEC Network, ESPN3.com
ABOUT SOUTH CAROLINA (7-11, 0-5 SEC): The Gamecocks had been fairly competitive in their first four conference games, losing three of the four by eight or fewer points, but they turned in a clunker in a 97-76 loss at Georgia on Wednesday. The mounting losses are wearing on Martin, who apologized earlier this week for his tirade directed toward guard Brenton Williams in the first half of a 75-74 loss to Mississippi last Saturday. Williams (11.5 points) is the team's No. 2 scorer behind freshman guard Sindarius Thornwell (12.8 points), who scored a season-high 26 points against Georgia.
ABOUT MISSOURI (14-4, 2-3): The Tigers are 42-2 at home under Haith, but one of the losses came to Martin's Kansas State squad in 2012. The other came in this year's SEC opener against Georgia, one of three disappointing defeats in the early portion of league play that have pushed Missouri squarely onto the dreaded NCAA Tournament bubble. Jabari Brown has been the one constant for the Tigers in SEC play, averaging 21.6 points after putting up a career-high 28 at LSU.
1. Missouri is 17-2 in games following a loss under Haith.
2. Williams is 50-for-51 from the foul line this season and leads the nation at 98 percent among qualified players (minimum 2.5 free throws made per game).
3. Brown (19.3 points) and Clarkson (18.7) both have scored in double figures in all 18 games this season, the longest streak to open a season for a Tiger since Kareem Rush did it in the first 21 contests of the 2000-01 campaign.
PREDICTION: Missouri 78, South Carolina 63