Maui, HI (SportsNetwork.com) - The Arizona Wildcats begin play in the Maui Invitational on Monday evening, as they take on the Missouri Tigers at the Lahaina Civic Center.
This winner of this game will take on either Purdue or Kansas State in second- round action on Tuesday.
Sean Miller's Wildcats have claimed in-season tournament titles in each of the last two seasons, winning the Diamond Head Classic in 2012 and the NIT Season Tip-Off in 2013. Arizona is off to a strong start to its new season, with three lopsided wins over Mount St. Mary's (78-55), Cal State Northridge (86-68) and most recently, UC Irvine (71-54).
Kim Anderson's first season with Missouri has produced a 2-1 record thus far. The Tigers were shocked in their season opener, losing to UMKC (69-61), but bounced back with two straight wins since, topping Valparaiso (56-41) and Oral Roberts (78-64).
This is the third all-time meeting between these two teams. Both previous games also came at neutral sites, with one win apiece. Arizona won the last meeting in 1994, a 92-72 rout in the NCAA Tournament.
The Tigers trailed Oral Roberts by two points at halftime, but were able to turn the tables after intermission thanks to superb defensive play, turning a narrow deficit into a 14-point victory. Oral Roberts shot 65 percent from the floor in the first half, but were held to a mere 20.8 percent effort over the final 20 minutes of action. Meanwhile, Missouri shot a sizzling 63.2 percent after the break. Montaque Gill-Caesar led the way with 19 points for Missouri. Wes Clark just missed a double-double with 14 points and nine assists, while Johnathan Williams III finished with 10 points.
Offense hasn't been Missouri's strength this season, as the team is shooting under 40 percent from the floor (.389) and netting a concerning 58.5 ppg. Still, strong defense has resulted in a +3.5 scoring margin, with the team allowing just 55.0 ppg through three outings. Gill-Caesar leads the team in the scoring column at 15.0 ppg and ranks second in rebounding (6.0 rpg). Clark is next in line with 14.5 ppg.
Arizona has had no problems at either end of the court this season and enjoys a +19.3 scoring margin as a result. The team is shooting just over 50 percent from the floor and puts up 78.3 ppg, while holding foes to just 59.0 ppg and under 40 percent shooting (.392). Sophomore Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and junior Brandon Ashley are both shooting over 60 percent from the field and are pouring in 16.0 and 15.0 ppg, respectively. Freshman Stanley Johnson has made an immediate impact with 11.7 ppg.