Frank Haith has yet to experience a loss at the helm in Columbia, as the first-year head coach has Missouri running on all cylinders thus far. The Tigers have won all 11 games this season, one of just six unbeatens left in the nation. On Sunday, Missouri kept its streak going with a 94-56 rout of William & Mary.
Bruce Weber's Illini have been almost as impressive this season, with the team's one loss coming against a strong UNLV squad last weekend, 64-48. Illinois was able to gain some distance from that lone loss with Monday's 64-60 win over Cornell.
Illinois holds a 27-14 lead in this heated rivalry, but Missouri has won the last two meetings, including last year's 75-64 decision.
It certainly didn't come easy, but Illinois was able to get past Cornell this week and back into the win column. Meyers Leonard was a big reason for the victory, as the 7-1 sophomore finished the game with 19 points and a career- high 16 rebounds. Illinois trailed Cornell much of the game, but was able to take over late thanks to a strong second half by D.J. Richardson, who scored nine of his 17 points after intermission. Brandon Paul got into the act as well, tacking on 15 points for the Illini, which won despite shooting a modest .421 from the floor. Illinois is a defensive-minded team, holding opponents to just 57.4 ppg, on 38.5 percent shooting. The team is only netting 69.0 ppg, but has some scoring options, with four of the five starters averaging double figures. Richardson leads the charge with 14.4 ppg. Leonard is a close second at 13.3 ppg, followed by Sam Maniscalco and Paul with 10.9 and 10.7 ppg, respectively.
Missouri has had no trouble generating offense this season, averaging 87.9 ppg on 52.6 percent shooting. The Tigers can score from anywhere on the floor, shooting .407 from behind the arc and a steady .779 from the free-throw line. The success is not limited to the offensive end, as Missouri is allowing just 60.2 ppg and is enjoying a gaudy +27.7 scoring margin as a result. All- American candidate Marcus Denmon leads this attack at 19.6 ppg. He is followed by fellow guard Kim English and his 16.0 ppg. The pair have been a lethal combo from long range, combining for 66 of the team's 94 three-pointers to date. Ricardo Ratliffe provides frontcourt balance at 14.3 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. Michael Dixon has been the perfect catalyst off the bench, netting 12.6 ppg. In the lopsided win over William & Mary, the Tigers shot a sizzling 60.3 percent from the floor. Dixon was superior, netting 30 points on 13-of-19 shooting. English poured in 17, while Ratliffe and Matt Pressey finished with 11 points apiece. Denmon struggled, adding just seven points on 3-of-11 shooting.