Missouri puts undefeated home record on line against LSU

Keion Bell of Missouri goes up for two of his 24 points in Thursday night’s 90-68 victory against South Carolina in Columbia, S.C.

Keion Bell of Missouri goes up for two of his 24 points in Thursday night’s 90-68 victory against South Carolina in Columbia, S.C. Photo by The Associated Press.

COLUMBIA — Fresh off a road victory at South Carolina, Missouri will try and keep its perfect home season alive today.

Missouri hosts LSU (3 p.m., KMIZ-TV) with a chance to move to 15-0 at Mizzou Arena this season.

“You’ve got 15,000 people rooting for you,” Missouri forward Laurence Bowers said. “Whenever you have such a big crowd supporting you it gives you a boost. Playing at home, you’re just a little bit more confident.”

Missouri has been nearly unbeatable at Mizzou Arena the past several seasons, where it is 82-4 since the start of the 2008-09 season.

This year has been no different. Only Mississippi and Auburn have topped 70 points against Missouri (20-8, 9-6 Southeastern Conference) at Mizzou Arena, where opponents are shooting 38 percent and are averaging 63.9 points per game.

Florida was the closest team to win at Mizzou Arena, dropping a 63-60 decision last month.

“You’re home, you’re with your fans, you’re sleeping in your own bed,” point guard Phil Pressey said. “That feels good.”

This is LSU’s (17-9, 8-7 SEC) first trip to Mizzou Arena. It defeated Missouri 73-70 on Jan. 30 and is 6-2 since that win, picking up a 65-60 victory against Arkansas on Wednesday night.

LSU started off 0-4 in league play but has won eight of its last 11 games, including a three-overtime win against Alabama last week.

“The good thing is our guys really stayed the course and accepted the challenges that we’ve put out there, and we’ve just continued to get better,” LSU coach Johnny Jones said.

Forward John O’Bryant leads LSU in scoring, averaging 13.6 points per game. Guards Anthony Hickey (11.6) and Andre Stringer (10.3) and forward Shavon Coleman (10.8) also average double figures for LSU.

“We caught them when they were starting to play well, and I think Johnny O’Bryant is a big part of that,” Missouri coach Frank Haith said. “They create havoc on the defensive end, knock balls loose. They are playing with great confidence.”

Missouri is coming off a 90-68 victory at South Carolina on Thursday night. The Tigers shot 69.6 percent from the field. Keion Bell finished with 24 points and Jabari Brown added 23. Up until the final minutes Missouri had a chance to break the school’s single-game record for shooting percentage set in 1989 against Hawaii-Loa (75.4 percent).

The win against South Carolina not only improved Missouri’s NCAA Tournament chances, but helped to possibly boost its seed for the SEC Tournament held March 13-17 in Nashville, Tenn.

Missouri is tied with Tennessee in fifth place, a game behind Mississippi for fourth. Missouri holds the tiebreaker against Mississippi because of Missouri’s victory against Florida, the top team in the SEC.

The top eight teams get a bye while the top four teams get a double-bye to the quarterfinals.

Notes: Missouri closes its home schedule Tuesday against Arkansas (6 p.m. ESPN-TV) before ending the regular season next Saturday at Tennessee. ... Missouri’s home losses since 2008 were against Kansas (twice), Texas A&M and Kansas State. ... Missouri has at least 20 wins for the fifth straight season.

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