Preview: Missouri heads to Nashville for SEC Tournament

The Tigers will take on the Georgia Bulldogs exactly one week after the two teams met for the first and only time during the regular season.
Coach Cuonzo Martin calls for one of his players during the first half of the Missouri vs. Ole Miss men's basketball game on Saturday, March 9 at Mizzou Arena in Columbia, Mo.

Missouri (14-16, 5-13) heads to Nashville, Tennessee, this Wednesday for the first round of the SEC Tournament, where the Tigers will take on the Georgia Bulldogs (11-20, 2-16). It will be exactly a week since the MU beat Georgia 64-39 in Athens, Georgia, during their first and only meeting of the regular season.

“Missouri did a number on us when we played them last week,” Georgia coach Tom Crean said in a Monday teleconference. “They were more physical than us, they were more aggressive. It hurt us, but I liked how our guys responded in getting ready to go against South Carolina.”

The Bulldogs lost 66-46 to the Gamecocks in their final game of the season on March 9.

The Tigers head into the tournament as the No. 12 seed after losing to Ole Miss 73-68 on Saturday afternoon in their own regular-season finale. With a Texas A&M loss earlier in the day, Missouri had the potential to move to the No. 11 seed had it won. If that had been the case, MU would have begun the tournament playing No. 14 Vanderbilt.

Bouncing back from the loss doesn’t seem to be a concern of Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin.

“You’re talking about the SEC Conference Tournament, great venue, great town in Nashville,” Martin said. “Of course [the team will] be ready to go.”

When it comes to the rematch against the Bulldogs, Martin doesn’t believe in trying to predict what adjustments coach Crean will have his team make.

“How they prepare, it really depends on what they might’ve saw on film and what they tryna do to win the game,” Martin said. “I can’t speak for that. For us, it’s more about how we prepare for the game and being locked in and don’t get consumed from the last game. Learn from it, but don’t let it consume us.”

In the two teams’ first meeting, MU senior Jordan Geist led the Tigers with 18 points and six assists. Freshman Torrence Watson also scored 17 points and redshirt sophomore Mitchell Smith added 11 rebounds.

For UGA, sophomore Nicolas Claxton scored 9 points and added 10 rebounds, one block and one steal in the team’s 39-point performance. Overall, the Bulldogs shot 0-for-10 from behind the arc in the first half but shot 30 percent in the second frame.

Missouri freshman Javon Pickett didn’t score in the contest and was benched in the following game against South Carolina after suffering from back spasms. Martin said “[he] would imagine” the guard will be ready to go against Georgia.

The winner of Missouri and Georgia will play No. 5 Auburn on Thursday at 2:30 p.m. CST.

In terms of the rest of the conference, No. 1 LSU, No. 2 Kentucky, No. 3 Tennessee and No. 4 South Carolina have all received first and second round byes.

Kentucky leads the SEC with 31 conference championships and has won the last four SEC Tournaments. The winner of each conference championship receives an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament at the end of March. Other teams must wait for “Selection Sunday,” which takes place on March 17.

Missouri and Georgia tipoff Wednesday night at 6 p.m. CST.

Edited by Adam Cole | acole@themaneater.com

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