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SEC quarterfinal preview: Missouri (8) vs. Florida (1)

• WHEN/WHERE: Noon Friday at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta

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

• ABOUT MISSOURI (22-10) : The Tigers’ formula for reaching a school-record sixth straight NCAA Tournament is pretty straightforward: Beat Florida. By knocking off the top-ranked Gators in the Southeastern Conference quarterfinals, Missouri would nab a signature victory and might edge its way into the 68-team field. Of course, the Tigers would be wise to win at least one more game, but it all starts with one thing. And beating Florida isn’t unthinkable. Missouri led 28-25 at halftime Feb. 4 in Gainesville. The Tigers held their own on the boards (33-32) and limited turnovers (12), but got beat at the free-throw line, where the Gators went twice as often (24-12).

• ABOUT FLORIDA (29-2): The Gators bring the nation’s second-longest winning streak into Friday’s quarterfinal at 23 games. Florida hasn’t been dominant in each of those games, but Billy Donovan’s squad has so much experience and displays incredible poise late in games. Against Missouri, sophomore sharpshooter Michael Frazier II altered the game with a series of zone-busting three-pointers, but the SEC player of the year, senior Scottie Wilbekin, did most of the damage with 19 points, a season-high at the time. The Tigers contained senior Patric Young, who finished with 13 points and six rebounds, and will need to have similar success defensively in the paint.

• BOTTOM LINE: Missouri is 4-14 all-time against No. 1-ranked teams. The Tigers’ last victory against a top-ranked foe came 17 years ago, a 96-94 double-overtime win against Kansas on Feb. 4, 1997, at the Hearnes Center. Missouri’s only victory against a No. 1 team away from the Hearnes Center came Feb. 13, 1990, against Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse. In other words, it’s a tall order for the Tigers. In the first meeting, senior Earnest Ross only went one of eight from the field for a then-season-low three points. Better production from Ross, who scored 24 on Thursday against Texas A&M, would be a good place to start in the quest for an upset.

P No. Missouri Ht. Yr. PPG
F 3 J. Williams III 6-9 Fr. 6.0
F 44 Ryan Rosburg 6-10 So. 4.8
G 5 Jordan Clarkson 6-5 Jr. 17.9
G 32 Jabari Brown 6-5 Jr. 19.9
G 33 Earnest Ross 6-5 Sr. 13.9
P No. Florida Ht. Yr. PPG
F 15 Will Yeguete 6-8 Sr. 5.2
F 24 Casey Prather 6-6 Sr. 14.6
C 4 Patric Young 6-9 Sr. 10.9
G 5 Scottie Wilbekin 6-2 Sr. 12.9
G 20 Michael Frazier II 6-4 So. 12.9
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