South Carolina and Missouri will meet for the first time ever on the basketball court Tuesday night when the Gamecocks travel to Columbia, Mo. for a showdown with the Tigers. While it may be the Gamecocks’ (11-6, 1-3) first game against the Tigers, head coach Frank Martin has faced them 10 times as head coach and holds a 6-4 record against them but just 1-4 in games played at Missouri.
South Carolina guard Eric Smith
Date: Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013
Tipoff: 7 p.m. ET
Location: Columbia, Mo.
Arena: Mizzou Arena (15,061)
Series: First Meeting
Last Meeting: None
“We are getting ready to go in and deal with a dog fight here,” Martin said. “We better play real, real good basketball. I have been in that arena and it is an incredible atmosphere. Their student section is off the charts. I am sure they are waiting for me with smiling faces over there, I can’t wait to get in front of them.”
One player the Gamecocks will likely not have to deal with is the Tigers leading scorer Laurence Bowers. The 6-foot-8 senior is averaging 16.8 points per game and is second on the team with 6.9 rebounds per contest bug head coach Frank Haith said during his weekly news conference on Monday that Bowers would likely miss his fourth straight game after spraining his right knee against Alabama on January 5.
According to Martin, the Tigers senior is an instrumental part of their team.
“Bowers is their best player in my opinion,” Martin said. “He is a five year guy, their leading scorer, a shot blocker and rebounds every ball that comes off the rim.”
Despite likely missing Bowers on Tuesday night, the Tigers have a potent offensive team that will be led by point guard Phil Pressey. Although just his first year in the SEC, media thought enough of Pressey to name him preseason Player of the Year for the conference and he has not disappointed averaging 12 points and seven assists per game.
Along with Pressey, it is the Tigers mentality offensively that concerns Martin heading into the SEC contest.
“They are fearless on offense,” Martin said. “You are seeing Phil Pressey show that. Just offensively they are going to ball screen you to death and they are going to attack you. They play with unbelievable confidence offensively.”
For the Gamecocks it will be a matter of continuing to progress as team while playing hard. Should they do that, Martin will not accept losing but will be pleased with his program.
“I wasn’t happy with how we prepared before Vanderbilt but that doesn’t make them bad kids,” Martin said. “They are giving me everything I can ask for and as long they keep doing that I will wake up and be excited about being their coach every single day.”
South Carolina and Missouri will tip off at 7 p.m. on ESPNU.