Mountaineers face uphill climb in clash with 16th-ranked Tigers

Dec 1, 2012 - 4:57 PM Columbia, MO (Sports Network) - Snapping their five-game losing streak won't be easy for the Appalachian State Mountaineers, as they tangle with the 16th- ranked Missouri Tigers on the road this Saturday.

Appalachian State won its season opener at home against Montreat (86-54), but since then has dropped five in a row, nearly all of them by double digits. The Mountaineers came closest to ending their current run of futility the last time out as they fell at home to Duquesne in a 73-72 final. Appalachian State will kick off the Southern Conference portion of its schedule a week from Saturday at Western Carolina, and will get into the meat of its league ledger after the new year.

Missouri has won five of its first six games, the most recent of which being a 68-65 decision against VCU last Saturday. The Tigers' lone setback came against nationally-ranked Louisville (84-61) the day before, and their other quality win on the campaign was against Stanford (78-70) on Thanksgiving -- all three games being part of the Battle 4 Atlantis. This bout marks the start of a four-game homestand for Mizzou, which still has tough non-league games against Illinois and UCLA to go before kicking off SEC action at home versus Alabama on Jan. 8, 2013.

This game represents the first meeting between these two schools in men's basketball.

Poor defensive play has been the primary reason Appalachian State has suffered for the last two weeks or so, as the team is giving up 80.5 ppg with foes knocking down half of their field goal attempts. When the Mountaineers maintain control the ball, they have found success in netting 75.3 ppg behind a 44.4 percent shooting effort, which includes a 37.3 percent mark from three- point range. The team is turning the ball over far too often (16.7 tpg), but comes up with nearly 15 takeaways per outing while laying claim to a modest +2.8 rebounding advantage. Jay Canty heads the unit's scoring effort with 16.3 ppg, and he rounds out his solid stat line with 6.3 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game, those also currently pacing the club. Nathan Healy (14.3 ppg, 6.2 rpg) and Tab Hamilton (13.2 ppg, 3.5 rpg) round out the unit's double-digit scorers, and the two combined for 40 points and 13 rebounds in the one-point loss to Duquesne last time out. Canty logged a double-double consisting of 15 points and 10 assists for the Mountaineers, who shot 50 percent from the field, nailing 9-of-20 three-point attempts along the way. Unfortunately, the team turned the ball over 18 times, and allowed the Dukes to dominate both in the paint (34-16), and in bench points (40-13).

Missouri has been effective at both ends of the court this season, netting 75.8 ppg while yielding 66.0 ppg. The Tigers, who drain nearly 38 percent of their long-range attempts, boast four double-digit scorers in the form of Phil Pressey (15.0 ppg, 6.2 apg), Laurence Bowers (14.2 ppg, 6.3 rpg), Alex Oriakhi (11.8 ppg, 8.8 rpg) and Earnest Ross (11.0 ppg, 5.5 rpg). Opponents are shooting just 38.5 percent from the field against Mizzou, which has controlled the glass to the tune of a +10.0 rebounding margin. Bowers notched a double- double with 14 points and 11 caroms in helping the Tigers ease past VCU in their final game in the Bahamas last weekend. Phil Pressey nearly had his own double-dip as he tallied 11 points and eight assists, and three others scored at least 11 points as the Tigers made good on 49.1 percent of their total shots while laying claim to a 40-31 rebounding advantage. Neither team went to the foul line much, with VCU going just 3-of-6 and Missouri 4-of-6.

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