Sitting on the podium more than a week ago inside the Scottrade Center, Missouri senior shooting guard Kassius Robertson lifted his head.
He had just finished speaking about his frustration with the Tigers’ turnover problem, but he knew he had to move on. He knew the team did, too, and his body language showed it.
“If we get down in SEC play early, it’s going to be really hard to come back,” Robertson said.
Thus far, Missouri has not gotten down. Through one game against South Carolina, it stood up. At noon Saturday inside Mizzou Arena, the Tigers (11-3, 1-0 SEC) will take on the Florida Gators (10-4, 2-0) with a chance to do so again.
And they’ll have the chance to garner a victory on CBS for the first time since the 2013-14 season, Frank Haith’s final campaign as the coach at MU. The Tigers played two national games on the network that season, beating No. 18 UCLA 80-71 and falling 84-79 to No. 11 Kentucky, both at Mizzou Arena.
To win, Missouri must succeed in shooting from beyond the arc. Against the Gamecocks on Wednesday, the Tigers did exactly that.
Thanks to five 3-pointers made by freshman forward Jontay Porter as well as four from both senior forward Jordan Barnett and Robertson, Missouri shot 58 percent from deep against South Carolina, knocking down 14 3-pointers in the process.
Florida, a team that was ranked No. 8 in the preseason AP poll but is unranked after surprising losses at home to both Florida State and Loyola (Illinois), also strokes it from deep.
The Gators are averaging 9.8 3-pointers per game, led by Jalen Hudson. The junior guard averages a team-high 16.9 points, while senior point guard Chris Chiozza averages 13.1 points.
For Missouri to knock off the Gators and win its second SEC game of the year, it must limit each — especially from 3-point range.
Projected starters — Missouri (No. 43 on kenpom.com)
F Kevin Puryear — 6-foot-7, 238 pounds
F Jordan Barnett — 6-7, 215
F Jeremiah Tilmon — 6-10, 252
G Jordan Geist — 6-2, 180
G Kassius Robertson — 6-3, 180
Projected starters — Florida (No. 29 on kenpom)
F Keith Stone — 6-8, 245
C Kevarrius Hayes — 6-9, 225
G Egor Koulechov — 6-5, 205
G KeVaughn Allen — 6-2, 193
G Chris Chiozza — 6-0, 175
When: Noon Saturday
Where: Mizzou Arena
Listen: 96.7 FM, 105.1 FM, 1580 AM; MUTigers.com
Supervising editors are James Patterson and Pete Bland: firstname.lastname@example.org, 882-5729.