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Preview: Kentucky at Missouri

By By The Sports Xchange
Published On: Feb 01 2014 12:19:43 AM CST
Updated On: Feb 01 2014 12:19:45 AM CST

Kentucky's young team has yet to prove it can beat a strong club on the road. The 11th-ranked Wildcats look to avoid a second straight road loss when they visit a much more experienced Missouri squad on Saturday. Kentucky might have a plethora of recent high school All-Americans in its backcourt, but it's the Tigers who boast the top-scoring backcourt trio in the SEC in Earnest Ross, Jabari Brown and Jordan Clarkson.Missouri did what the Wildcats couldn't by winning at Arkansas on Tuesday and have taken three of their last four to creep up just behind second-place Kentucky in the SEC standings. The Wildcats are coming off an 87-82 loss at LSU in which star freshman forward Julius Randle was limited to a season-low six points on 3-of-11 shooting. The Tigers will counter Randle with fellow freshman forward Johnathan Williams III, who hauled in 12 rebounds and blocked three shots in Tuesday's 75-71 win at Arkansas.TV: 1 p.m. ET, CBSABOUT KENTUCKY (15-5, 5-2 SEC): Coach John Calipari still is figuring out how to get the most out of the talent on hand and is shuffling minutes between frontcourt players Willie Cauley-Stein, Dakari Johnson and Alex Poythress based on matchups and effort once the games start. "This is a team in progress," Calipari told reporters after the loss at LSU. "It is all about the process. The process we are at right now is, will we have the mental toughness to break through and be the kind of team we want to be?" Kentucky allows an average of 66.6 points but has surrendered 85.3 in its last three losses - all on the road.ABOUT MISSOURI (16-4, 4-3): The Tigers sit a game behind the Wildcats in the SEC standings and are looking at their toughest stretch of the conference slate with a trip to No. 4 Florida coming up after the Kentucky contest. Brown, Ross and Clarkson combined for 59 points in the win over Arkansas on Tuesday and did a strong job of spreading out the shots among each other. Brown leads the SEC in scoring with an average of 19.8 points and has gone off for at least 22 each of the last five contests while shooting 60.7 percent from the field in that span.TIP-INS1. Missouri leads the SEC in free-throw percentage at 72.3, while Kentucky struggles to 67.6 percent from the stripe.2. Brown and Clarkson both have reached double figures in every game this season.3. Wildcats G James Young has shot 50 percent or better from the field in three straight games after failing to make half his shots in any of the previous nine contests.PREDICTION: Missouri 82, Kentucky 79

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