Who: Missouri (10-3, 0-0 SEC) at South Carolina (9-4, 0-1)
When: 9 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Colonial Life Arena
KenPom prediction: South Carolina 70, Missouri 68
Radio: 107.5 The Game in Columbia area
Series: Tied 4-4
Last meeting: Jan. 28, 2017 – South Carolina won 63-53 in Columbia, Missouri
Coach: Cuonzo Martin (176-124 in 10 seasons overall; First season at Missouri – 10-3). Martin, who led Tennessee from 2011-14, is 5-0 against South Carolina.
Projected starters: G Blake Harris (4.1 ppg), G Kassius Robertson (15.1), F Jordan Barnett (14.8), F Jeremiah Tilmon (9.6), F Kevin Puryear (10.2)
Last game: Lost to Illinois 70-64 on Dec. 23 in St. Louis
Notes: Missouri is one of four SEC teams to not play during the league’s opening weekend of games. … The Tigers, cellar dwellers in the SEC each of the past three seasons, were picked by media members in October to finish fifth in the league. This had much to do with the arrival of ballyhooed freshman Michael Porter Jr. But Porter Jr. lasted two minutes of Mizzou’s season-opening win over Iowa State before exiting with a back injury. He hasn’t returned. … According to Ken Pomeroy, the Tigers are 14th nationally and second in the SEC in effective field goal percentage, a statistic that adjusts for the fact that a 3-point field goal is worth one more point than a 2-point field goal. Mizzou’s 123 made 3-pointers are second-most among SEC teams.
Coach: Frank Martin (222-132 in 11 seasons overall; Sixth season at USC — 105-78). Martin is 4-4 against Missouri.
Projected starters: G Wes Myers (5.2); G Frank Booker (11.8); F Justin Minaya (8.9); F Chris Silva (13.4); F Maik Kotsar (9.2)
Last game: Lost at Ole Miss 74-69 on Sunday in Oxford, Mississippi
Notes: Hassani Gravett, who started USC’s first 12 games but missed the Ole Miss loss with a sprained ankle, is expected to return, Martin said Sunday. Myers replaced him at point guard in Oxford and scored three points with five assists. ... During a seven-game stretch that began Nov. 17 against UTEP and ended Dec. 9 against Coastal Carolina, Minaya scored in double figures six times. The freshman has totaled a combined eight points in the three games since. . … USC’s 14 offensive rebounds at Ole Miss were its most against a Division I opponent this season.
1. NO PORTER JR., SURE, BUT TIGERS STILL A THREAT
The ESPN broadcast team of Beth Mowins and Sean Farnham will be courtside Wednesday, a nod to a quality matchup early in the SEC season. Then again, hype around this one could have been greater.
Porter Jr.’s injury takes fans away from watching a potential lottery face a reigning Final Four participant. So what’s the entertainment value in the Tigers now? Cuonzo Martin’s bunch is still a capable side. Mizzou has wins over Iowa State and St. John’s. It lost by four to now-sixth-ranked West Virginia on Nov. 27.
ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has the Tigers in his latest projected NCAA Tournament field.
USC hasn’t started the SEC season 0-2 since 2015.
2. CLEANING THE GLASS
Among the things Frank Martin wanted his Gamecocks to improve upon entering SEC play, offensive rebounding. USC was plus-10 on the offensive glass at Ole Miss, using the 14 extra opportunities for 11 second chance points.
Missouri enters Wednesday 17th nationally in offensive rebounding percentage. South Carolina is 61st in that category.
3. BACKCOURT QUESTIONS
Myers’ first crack at starting point guard was limited by early foul trouble. The senior, in place of the injured Gravett, still managed to lead the Gamecocks in assists at Ole Miss.
David Beatty, who played a career-high 33 minutes against the Rebels, continues to come on strong. The freshman’s aggressiveness gives the USC offense a spark, but can he begin to break, as Martin calls them, his bad defensive habits?
The Tigers’ backcourt also features an interesting mix – freshman Harris and graduate senior Robertson.
Robertson, Mizzou’s leading scorer, spent his early college years at Canisius.