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Missouri-Tennessee basketball preview

• WHEN/WHERE: 3 p.m. Saturday at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, Tenn.

• TV/RADI O: ESPN; KMBZ (980 AM, 98.1 FM)

• ABOUT MISSOURI (21-9, 9-8 SEC) : During MU’s first game against Tennessee, the Tigers shot 56.5 percent from the field, led by junior Jabari Brown, who was eight of 12 and finished with 24 points. Missouri won 75-70. Tennessee almost certainly won’t let Brown win another game, so it’s up to junior Jordan Clarkson, senior Earnest Ross and the frontcourt to produce. Fortunately, Missouri’s bigs should have some confidence against Cuonzo Martin’s crew. Freshman Johnathan Williams III, senior Tony Criswell, junior Keanau Post and freshman Torren Jones combined to made 11 of 14 from the field, scoring 27 points with 14 rebounds in game one. Missouri is 2-6 on the road in SEC games and has played particularly poorly in the last two road games, losses at Alabama and Georgia.

• ABOUT TENNESSEE (19-11, 10-7 SEC): In some ways, the Volunteers were unlucky during that loss Feb. 15 at Mizzou Arena. Tennessee outrebounded Missouri 34-28 and went to the free-throw line three more times. Missouri is 2-4 when getting beat on the boards and 2-6 when shooting fewer free throws than its opponent. Obviously, better defense is a must, but Tennessee also has to commit to getting junior Jarnell Stokes the ball. He made six of seven from the field and scored 13 against Missouri, but only had one field-goal attempt in the second half of that loss.

• BOTTOM LINE: Both teams are squarely on the NCAA Tournament bubble. Most projections currently have the Volunteers making the 68-team field with the Tigers likely headed for the NIT. Of course, that changes if Missouri wins. The Tigers have some strong wins on the resume, including a home victory against UCLA, a road win at North Carolina State and a season sweep of Arkansas. Adding a season sweep against the Volunteers might be enough to punch a NCAA ticket for the sixth straight season.

P No. Missouri Ht. Yr. PPG
F 3 Johnathan Williams III 6-9 Fr. 6.0
F 44 Ryan Rosburg 6-10 So. 4.7
G 5 Jordan Clarkson 6-5 Jr. 18.3
G 32 Jabari Brown 6-5 Jr. 20.1
G 33 Earnest Ross 6-5 Sr. 13.9
P No. Tennessee Ht. Yr. PPG
F 5 Jarnell Stokes 6-8 Jr. 14.5
F 34 Jeronne Maymon 6-8 Sr. 10.4
G 1 Josh Richardson 6-6 Jr. 9.5
G 15 Antonio Barton 6-2 Sr. 7.6
G 52 Jordan McRae 6-6 Sr. 19.1