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Non-Conference Preview: UAPB & SIUE

The full conference schedule is out now, so we’re gonna double up on our preview with a couple of the... ahem... lighter fare.

NCAA Basketball: Arkansas-Pine Bluff at Texas Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

The full Non-Conference schedule is finally out. Much of it was already known thanks to leaks to Jon Rothstein or Rocco Miller who just put it all out on Twitter. But Missouri held their entire hand close to the vest until last week when the published a fun little video about it.

Here are the dates (complete with any links to previous previews):

So here’s what we know so far:

  • November 6th — vs Arkansas-Pine Bluff
  • November 10th — vs. Memphis
  • November 13th — vs SIU Edwardsville
  • November 16th — at Minnesota
  • November 19th — vs. Jackson State
  • November 22nd — vs South Carolina State
  • November 25th — Loyola (MD)
  • November 28th — at Pittsburgh (ACC-SEC Challenge)
  • December 3rd — vs. Wichita State
  • December 9th — vs. Kansas
  • December 17th — vs Seton Hall (Kansas City)
  • December 22nd — vs. Illinois (Braggin’ Rights)
  • December 30th — vs. Central Arkansas

So let’s hop in on opponents 1 and 3. First Arkansas Pine Bluff.

Head Coach | Solomon Bozeman | 3rd Season 17-45

NCAA Basketball: Arkansas-Pine Bluff at Texas Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

Taking on the head coaching job at a SWAC school is no easy gig. And Arkansas Pine Bluff has been one of the tougher jobs in that league. So credit Solomon Bozeman for taking the job to see what he can accomplish at UAPB.

Bozeman replaced George Ivory who was the head coach at Pine Bluff for more than 13 years. In Ivory’s second season he took the Lions to their only NCAA Tournament, but by the end the program was one of the worst in all of Division 1. Bozeman, an Arkansas native, accepted the job after being on staff at Oral Roberts and his alma mater at Arkansas-Little Rock.

In season 1 they won just 7 games, and last season just 10. But in the SWAC programs stay afloat by lining up to be slaughtered by high majors. Last season they played TCU, Oklahoma, Mississippi State, Nebraska, Texas, and Minnesota. The year before was Texas again, Creighton, Iowa State, and Baylor. This year will probably be much of the same.

Progress at a school like Pine Bluff is rarely about raw win totals and more about league standing and efficiency ratings. In year 1 under Bozeman the Lions finished 11th in the league and 352nd in KenPom. Last year they were 9th and 322nd.

That looks like progress!

Series History | Mizzou leads 5-0

Missouri has invited Arkansas Pine Bluff to Columbia five times, and five times they’ve walked away with a W. The first meeting between the two schools happened in December of 1998 and it was an unpleasant affair for the visiting Lions. Missouri blitzed the Lions by 56 points. It was a rough entry to Division 1 for Pine Bluff. They didn’t win double digit games until the 2006 season when they went 13-16. It was three years later they returned to Columbia in the first season under George Ivory. Mizzou promptly beat the Lions by 54 points.

The next season was much closer. Mizzou won by 18 to what has been UAPBs best team since they joined the D1 ranks in 1997. They won the conference and earned their only NCAA tournament bid to date. The next season, in 2010, Mizzou beat them again by 28 points. Then the final match saw the Lions coming into Mizzou Arena in 2015 during Kim Anderson’s second season. That game was horrible. UAPB managed just 25 points in the lowest point total for an opponent since Mizzou Arena opened, and the Tigers won by 53.

That’s an average differential of over 40 points.

What about the team now?

UAPB hasn’t updated their online roster to date but one thing I know for sure if they’re having to replace their top scorer from a year ago in Shaun Doss, and their 3rd leading scorer in Chris Greene.

We also know they’ve lost two transfers and gained two transfers (per ). They’ve welcomed Joe French, a floor spacing senior guard from Bethune Cookman who hit over 41% of his threes from last season. The other is Lonnell Martin from Montana. Martin hit over 37% from deep last season. Meanwhile they lost AC Curry, a good rebounding defensive wing, and Brahm Harris, an oft injured physical wing. The two combined to average just 8 ppg.

Like most teams at the lower levels, there will be some JUCO signees, and a fairly cobbled together roster. The goal will be to simply get better than they were a year ago. The Lions were pretty decent (for their league) on defense, but struggled offensively. Their 3PT shooting wasn’t very good, which is why Bozeman imported two from the portal.

This is still a game where Mizzou should win without much effort.

Next up Southern Illinois Edwardsville or SIUE.

Head Coach | Brian Barone | 5th Season 47-75

NCAA Basketball: SIU - Edwardsville at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Don’t let the record fool you, Brian Barone is doing really good work in Edwardsville. The Cougars are coming off their best season since joining the Division 1 ranks for the 2008-09 season. Barone is the son of former Grizzlies, Texas A&M and Creighton head basketball coach Tony Barone. Brian played for his father at Texas A&M before transferring to Marquette to finish out his college career.

As a coach he’s spent time at Indiana, Green Bay, Illinois State, and in the JUCO ranks before he landed as an associate head coach at SIUE. Then SIUE fired Jon Harris and just plugged Barone into the top seat. Things have gone better. But still a long way to go.

The OVC has changed a lot recently, gone are the powerhouses of Murray State and Belmont. Even Eastern Kentucky is gone. So there’s some room to move up. We’ll see if Barone can make that move.

Series History | Mizzou leads 3-0

Last year you may remember SIUE lost by 25 points but were down by 40 during the second half before staging a bit of a comeback once Mizzou took their top players out. D’Moi Hodge had 30 points and Kobe Brown only played 8 minutes.

That was the first contest between the two schools since Frank Haith’s second season when a 15th ranked Missouri squad slipped past SIUE by 14. The two also faced each other in the Cougars first season as a Division 1 team in 2008 and it was uhhh, not close. If you recall that 2008-09 team was pretty good and DeMarre Carroll led the way with 21 points as the Tigers routed SIUE by 50.

What about the team now?

Back is leading scorer from last season Ray’Sean Taylor and second leading scorer Demarco Minor. In fact only DeeJuan Pruitt isn’t retuning out of the top five scorers. Both Shamar and Lamar Wright come back, and those four combined to average 48.1 ppg last year.

So they’re returning 3.5 starters from a team who finished with the best KenPom rating in school history and finished 9-9 in the OVC. Oh and they upset SLU on their home floor notching their first and only win over a top 100 KenPom team.

Oh and Javon Pickett’s little brother Jordan is a freshman too!

Obviously this is another game Mizzou should win and win going away. Though it’s early enough in the season and SIUE is prickly enough to put up a good fight, I wouldn’t take them lightly.