Niagara faces tall task in clash with No. 24 Missouri

Nov 17, 2011 - 3:55 PM Columbia, MO (Sports Network) - The 24th-ranked Missouri Tigers are heavy favorites in tonight's non-conference home clash with the Niagara Purple Eagles.

Niagara opened its season on Monday against Central Connecticut State at home and was pushed to overtime, but the result was a thrilling 102-93 victory. The level of competition spikes dramatically tonight for the Purple Eagles, who welcome back just two starters from last season's 9-23 team. Clearly, Joe Mihalich has plenty of work to do as head coach of this Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference squad.

A Big 12 Conference member, Missouri has opened with back-to-back home wins over lackluster competition. After cruising past Southeast Missouri State by 15 points in the opener, the Tigers posted an 81-63 decision over Mercer on Monday. New head coach Frank Haith will find out plenty about his Tigers in the next scheduled game against Notre Dame on November 21.

This game marks the first-ever meeting between Niagara and Missouri on the hardwood.

Marvin Jordan (11.8 ppg) was Niagara's top three-point threat a year ago, connecting on 77-of-224 opportunities beyond the arc, and he is the lone double-digit scorer back in place. In the opener against Central Connecticut State, Jordan knocked down just 1-of-7 attempts from behind the arc, but he still finished with 23 points to tie for the team lead. Juan'ya Green also posted 23 points to go along with six assists, and Joseph Thomas contributed 13 points off the bench. The Purple Eagles were a disappointing 5-of-20 from downtown and turned the ball over 20 times, but a 33-16 advantage in points from the foul line was clearly key to the win. It also helped matters that Niagara forced 26 turnovers.

Missouri forced 20 turnovers against Mercer on Monday and limited the opposition to 23 field goals in the affair. The Tigers also finished that game with advantages in points from the foul line (20-9) and rebounding (34-30), both of which were integral in the final outcome. Phil Pressey was impressive in the triumph, as he poured in 22 points in 34 minutes of action. Kim English hit 4-of-6 three-pointers en route to 18 points, and Michael Dixon added 14 points off the bench. The third and final double-digit scorer for Mizzou was Marcus Denmon with 12 points. The Tigers connected on 11-of-22 three-pointers in the victory. Forward Ricardo Ratliffe was quiet against Mercer, but he posted 20 points and eight rebounds in the opener against Southeast Missouri State. Denmon had the exact same line in that game, and English posted 19 points.

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