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December 28, 2013

NC State seeking signature win

Missouri's Jordan Clarkson and NC State's T.J. Warren lead their respective conferences in scoring while helping guide their teams to solid starts.

The 25th-ranked Tigers look to bounce back from their lone defeat tonight when they visit a Wolfpack team seeking an eighth-straight victory.

Clarkson, a 6-foot-5 junior guard in his first season with Missouri (10-1) after transferring from Tulsa, is averaging an SEC-best 19.9 points while scoring at least 21 in six of his last seven contests.

He finished with 25 points and a career-high eight assists last Saturday, but the Tigers fell 65-64 to Illinois in St. Louis on a pair of free throws with 4.6 seconds remaining. Jabari Brown hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 14.9 seconds left.

Missouri finished with its lowest point total of the season for the second straight game.

"We just had to make a play," Clarkson said. "We had to make a stop at the end of the game. We just didn't finish the game the way we wanted to."

Coach Frank Haith's team committed 14 turnovers and is averaging 15.3 over its last four. Saturday marks the Tigers' first true road game of the season.

"It's tough to lose a game like this," Haith said. "There's going to be a lot of things we'll look back on, but I thought our guys gave great effort. The loose balls there (down the stretch), and then the turnovers in the first half were tough too."

The Tigers face another tough challenge in trying to contain Warren, who is averaging 23.9 points to top the ACC. The sophomore forward has scored at least 30 three times, including a career-high 32 in last Saturday's 90-79 win over East Carolina.

NC State (9-2) hasn't lost since being stunned at home 82-72 in overtime by North Carolina Central on Nov. 20. It hasn't won eight in a row since the start of the 2004-05 season.

The current streak has coincided with the return of 7-foot-1 senior Jordan Vandenberg, who missed the first four games with a left ankle sprain. Vandenberg hit 9 of 10 from the field and finished with a career-high 18 points against the Pirates, and coach Mark Gottfried said the center's play has helped Warren be even more productive.

"I played T.J. inside a lot more (during the first four games)," Gottfried said. "It allows T.J. to play on the wing and allows him to get out on the break and defend a wing player instead of a post player. We are a better team with that lineup."

Vandenberg is the lone senior on a roster that features four freshmen, though Gottfried knows youth won't be an excuse if the Wolfpack fail to have a successful season.

NC State is shooting 49.7 percent, second in the conference.

"They are youthful and they are anxious to learn. I like that about our team," Gottfried said. "Our Wolfpack Nation wants to win. They don't care how young we are. Hopefully we can get better and hopefully we can keep improving and take things day by day."

These teams haven't met since NC State beat Missouri 87-68 at the Rainbow Classic in Hawaii on Dec. 29, 1995.

Missouri preview

NC State 2013-14 roster

NC State schedule/results

NC State season stats

Missouri roster

Missouri schedule/results

Missouri season stats

Game facts

No. 25 Missouri (10-1) at NC State (9-2)

Game time: Saturday, Dec. 28, 8 p.m. — PNC Arena, Raleigh, N.C.

Television: ESPN2

Probable starters

NC State
PG — 2 Anthony Barber (6-2, 170, Fr., 12.4 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 4.3 apg)
SG — 5 Desmond Lee (6-4, 200, Jr., 10.3 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 1.5 apg)
SF — 24 T.J. Warren (6-8, 215, Soph., 23.9 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 0.8 apg, 1.7 spg)
PF — 10 Lennard Freeman (6-8, 245, Fr., 4.5 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 1.1 apg)
C — 14 Jordan Vandenberg (7-1, 245, 5th-Sr., 8.6 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 1.0 apg, 3.0 bpg)

PG — 5 Jordan Clarkson (6-5, 193, R-Jr., 19.9 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 4.3 apg, 1.3 spg)
SG — 32 Jabari Brown (6-5, 214, R-Jr., 18.2 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 1.5 apg, 1.0 spg)
SF — 33 Earnest Ross (6-5, 228, R-Sr., 14.1 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 1.6 apg, 1.6 spg)
PF — 3 Johnathan Williams III (6-9, 208, Fr., 6.5 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 0.6 apg, 1.5 bpg)
C — 44 Ryan Rosburg (6-10, 252, Soph., 5.3 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 0.5 apg)


Location: Columbia, Mo.

Nickname: Tigers

2012-13 record: 23-11, 11-7 SEC

2013 postseason: Lost 84-72 to Colorado State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Coach: Frank Haith 187-118 overall (9th season) and 58-17 at Missouri (third season)

Series: NC State leads 2-1.

Last meeting: NC State won 87-68 on Dec. 29, 1995, in Honolulu, Hawaii.


Missouri: Missouri’s offense is built around three experienced guards, who all started their college careers at other colleges. Tulsa transfer Jordan Clarkson has been impressive through the first 11 games. He averaged 16.5 points per game in 2011-12 at Tulsa, and has increased his production to 19.9 points a game at Missouri. The 6-5, 193-pounder has scored at least 21 points in seven games, including 31 in a 72-59 win over Southern Illinois Nov. 12 and he had 25 points and eight assists in his last outing against Illinois … Oregon transfer Jabari Brown is a three-point marksman, who is averaging 18.2 points and 5.6 rebounds per game while shooting 42.3 percent on three-pointers. He has scored at least 10 points in every game, with a season-high 24 against both Nevada and IUPUI. The 6-5, 214-pounder went 5 of 8 on three-pointers in the latter game … Ross played his first two years at Auburn, and attended Cary (N.C.) Panther Creek. The physical 6-5, 228-pound slasher is averaging 14.1 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. Ross is shooting 32.1 percent from three-point land, and has drained 12 of 32 three-pointers over his last five games. He poured in a season-high 28 points and added nine rebounds against Nevada … Johnathan Williams III, a 6-9, 208-pound freshman power forward, was ranked No. 42 overall in the class of 2013 by Rivals.com. The Memphis native has had a pair of double-doubles, and he has averaged 6.5 points, 8.1 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game. Williams had 10 points and 15 rebounds in an 80-71 win over UCLA Dec. 7, and had seven points, 17 rebounds and three blocks in a 72-63 win over Gardner-Webb Nov. 23 … Sophomore center Ryan Rosburg is averaging 5.3 points and 4.0 rebounds per game in his first year starting for the Tigers. The 6-10, 252-pounder is shooting 74.2 percent from the field, and he had a season-high 14 points against Northwestern Nov. 28 … Fifth-year senior post player Tony Criswell and freshman point guard Wesley Clark have typically been the first players off the bench. The 6-9, 240-pound Criswell is averaging 6.2 points and 4.9 rebounds per game, while shooting 57.9 percent from the field. Clark plays 21.4 minutes per game at point guard, and is averaging 5.7 points and 2.5 assists per game … Junior shooting guard Quddus “Deuce” Bello played his first two years at Baylor, but the former High Point (N.C.) Westchester product is sitting out this season as a transfer.

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