December 17, 2017 / 4:12 AM / 10 months ago

Preview: North Florida at Missouri

Missouri can surpass last season’s win total when it hosts North Florida on Saturday. The once-proud Missouri program is enjoying a resurgence in its first season under coach Cuonzo Martin and will aim for its fourth straight win – and ninth of the season – while trying to end the Ospreys’ four-game winning streak.

Martin reinforced the Tigers’ roster with a strong recruiting class and added graduate transfer Kassius Robertson, and the newcomers seem to be bringing out the best in the holdovers from former coach Kim Anderson’s tenure. “I think everyone is starting to contribute,” Robertson told reporters. “That’s big for us. We’re a team that’s deep.” The Ospreys have won five of six following an 0-6 start, but two of those victories came against NAIA opponents and all four of their games against Power Five foes have resulted in losses of 20 points or more. North Florida is 0-19 all-time against current SEC members.

TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, SEC Network

ABOUT NORTH FLORIDA (5-7): The Ospreys like to play an up-tempo game and are averaging 89.3 points during their four-game winning streak. All five of the team’s starters are sophomores - including Puerto Rican guard Ivan Gandia-Rosa, who leads the team in scoring (16 points) and assists (4.5). Swingman Garrett Sams (12.8 points, 4.2 rebounds) and guard J.T. Escobar (11.8 points) also average double digits in points, while Wajid Aminu (9.7, seven rebounds) and Noah Horchler (9.4, 6.8) have been the Ospreys’ most productive post players.

ABOUT MISSOURI (8-2): The Tigers will have a big size advantage in the frontcourt with their bevy of talented big men led by veteran forwards Jordan Barnett (13.3 points, 5.3 rebounds) and Kevin Puryear (11.7, five) as well as freshmen Jeremiah Tilmon (9.8, 5.1) and Jontay Porter (8.7, 6.8, 2.3 blocks). Robertson is the team’s leading scorer at 14 points per game and shoots 42.2 percent from 3-point range, but the Tigers have gotten big-time production from unlikely candidates on any given night. Reserve guard Jordan Geist went off for a career-high 28 points on 11-of-14 shooting in a 100-77 win over Green Bay on Saturday.

TIP-INS

1. Missouri’s 97 3-pointers are the most through 10 games in program history.

2. The Tigers have made 10 or more 3-pointers in seven of their 10 games, while the Ospreys have done so in eight of their 12 contests.

3. Barnett has made five 3-pointers in consecutive games.

PREDICTION: Missouri 91, North Florida 72

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