Posted: Jan 30, 2014 5:15 PM by Thomas Bradbury, KOMU 8 Sports Digital Producer
Updated: Jan 31, 2014 12:51 AM
COLUMBIA - On Saturday Missouri looks to beat the Kentucky Wildcats in basketball for the first time ever. The last meeting between the teams occurred last season and yielded an overtime 90-83 loss for the Tigers.
Both of these team's have had top players leave since last season. Kentucky's four leading scorers this season are all true freshman, led by forward Julius Randle, a current favorite to win the Wooden Award for the NCAA's best player.
Three of Missouri's four leading scorers from last season are gone. Their output has been replaced by the backcourt tandem of Jordan Clarkson and Jabari Brown. The pair has reached double figures in every game so far and combine for almost 40 points each outing. Brown comes into this game with five consecutive outings of scoring more than 20 points.
In regard to Brown, Missouri Coach Frank Haith said, "He's having an unbelievable run, A lot of it has to do with his patience and his understanding and his maturation as a player."
Ernest Ross, one of Missouri's only returning starters from last season, is still thinking last year's game against Kentucky, he said, "It's a wonderful feeling... Playing at Kentucky last year and losing to them pretty close on the road just gives us a chance to redeem ourselves on our home court. Just to be able to bring them into our home and hopefully the fans come out and support us really well like they did when we went there. I'm looking forward to this game."
The last game for Kentucky was five point away loss to LSU, the same team that Missouri lost to over a week ago. Since that loss, Missouri has won its past two games against South Carolina and Arkansas respectively.
Missouri has been one of the best performing teams at home since Frank Haith became head coach. With Haith leading the team, Missouri is 43-2 at Mizzou Arena. Under Coach Haith Missouri is also 10-4 when facing top 25 teams.
A match-up to look for will be between Missouri freshman Johnathan Williams III and Kentucky's freshman Julius Randle. Both players have big 6 foot 9 inch frames and consistently lead their respective teams in rebounds. Williams III's defense on Randle should have a large effect on the outcome of the game. When Randle is held below 40 percent shooting, Kentucky has lost two out of three times.
Kentucky is ranked 11th in the country and feature a lineup featuring many players projected to be drafted into the NBA. Forward Julius Randle, center Willie Cauley-Stein and gaurd James Young, are all projected by ESPN's Chad Ford to be picked in next year's NBA Draft.
Jordan Clarkson knows what he's up against, he said "I came here to play against the best competition, bigger schools. They're considered one of the best schools in the country so this is what I came here for...to play in games like these."
The game tips off noon at Mizzou Arena. Missouri fans are encouraged to wear gold.