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Mizzou Tigers men’s basketball at Liberty Flames: Time, TV, lineups, prediction

·3 min read
L.G. Patterson/AP

THE DETAILS

When: 6 p.m. Central time Thursday

Where: Liberty Arena, Lynchburg, Virginia

TV: ESPN+ (streaming only)

Radio: KMBZ (98.1 FM)

Betting line: Liberty -3.5

PROJECTED LINEUPS

P

No.

Liberty

Ht.

Yr.

PPG

G

2

Darius McGhee

5-9

Sr.

18.3

G

23

Joseph Venzant

6-3

Fr.

5.5

F

20

Keegan McDowell

6-6

Jr.

11.2

F

22

Kyle Rode

6-7

Jr.

4.8

F

32

Blake Preston

6-9

R-Jr.

6.3

P

No.

Missouri

Ht.

Yr.

PPG

G

1

Amari Davis

6-2

Jr.

11.1

G

5

Javon Pickett

6-5

Sr.

9.1

G

12

DaJuan Gordon

6-3

Jr.

8.7

F

24

Kobe Brown

6-8

Jr.

15.4

F

21

Ronnie DeGray III

6-6

So.

10.0

About Liberty (3-3): The Flames are coming off their fifth consecutive 20-plus win season, now in their ninth year under coach Ritchie McKay. They’ve lost to LSU (74-58), Iona (54-50) and Manhattan (76-60). Most recently, Liberty defeated Maryland Eastern Shore, 73-61, at home. The Flames have held opponents to a mere 56.7 points per game. Liberty is led by 5-foot-9 senior guard Darius McGhee, the 2020-21 Atlantic Sun Player of the Year who is averaging 18.3 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game this season. KenPom ranks Liberty 133rd.

About Missouri (4-3): The Tigers got back in the win column with a 91-59 victory over Paul Quinn, an NAIA opponent, earlier this week. Coach Cuonzo Martin made some rotation changes for that game that could be here to stay, most notably moving Ronnie DeGray III into the starting lineup and not playing big man Jordan Wilmore a single minute, saying there were some things he needed to improve on. Amari Davis has been playing more minutes at point guard as well, starting at the one spot over Jarron “Boogie” Coleman. Forward Kobe Brown has continued his dominant season as Mizzou’s best player and he is one of just two players to rank top-10 in the SEC in scoring (15.4 ppg) and rebounding (9.6 rpg). KenPom ranks Missouri 128.

Prediction

Thanks to a home-and-home agreement that started in Columbia last season, Mizzou finds itself on the road for quite the strange matchup against the Liberty Flames. The Tigers are the only SEC team to ever make the trip to Lynchburg, Virginia, as well as the first Power Five team to make the trip since 2009.

The Flames have won 39 consecutive home games — only Gonzaga has a longer home winning streak. The Tigers will be tested in their first true road game.

Mizzou has often been held back by slow starts this year and it can’t afford to do that in this game. One way to get off to a better start will be forcing turnovers and playing well in transition. In games against Division I opponents (its first game Regent was not), Liberty is giving up 15.0 points off turnovers per game.

KenPom gives Mizzou a 40% chance of winning while the ESPN BPI has just a 26.2% chance of a Tiger win.

Liberty 66, Missouri 62

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