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Columbia Missourian

Missouri men's basketball team prepares to go to work against Gamecocks

By Justin Yang
February 27, 2013 | 8:35 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — Construction sites usually require tough workers with a relentless work ethic.

Missouri men's basketball coach Frank Haith says he wants to see his players bring that mentality Thursday when they go to Columbia, S.C., to play South Carolina.

Thursday's game

Missouri (19-8, 8-6)
at South Carolina (13-14, 3-11)

WHEN: 8 p.m. CST
Colonial Life Arena, Columbia, S.C.
KTGR/103.1 & 100.5 FM, 1580 AM

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"We understand playing a Frank Martin team, we have to bring our hard hats and lunch pail," Haith said Monday.

The Tigers will be bringing a few hammers when them as well.

Forwards Alex Oriakhi and Laurence Bowers are both coming off a strong performance against Kentucky, despite the 90-83 overtime loss.

Oriakhi had a strong presence in the paint against the Wildcats, scoring 16 points and getting 15 rebounds, saying it was the most comfortable he has felt on the road.

"Phil (Pressey) was just making it easy for me," Oriakhi said. "All I had to do was finish, I just tried to rebound it."

Bowers had 13 points and five rebounds, while Pressey scored a career-high 27 points.

Haith anticipates a game full of contact against South Carolina and wants his players to be aggressive.

"They're going to be physical, and they're going to be allowed to be physical," Haith said. "We have to be able to play with the mentality. He comes at me, I go at him. If you don't, you get exposed."

When Missouri played South Carolina on Jan. 22 at Mizzou Arena, South Carolina started off strong, leading by 13 points at one point. But Missouri eventually overcame its sluggish start, winning 71-65.

South Carolina has gone 2-7 since that matchup with Missouri, its most recent victory coming in a 63-62 win against Ole Miss Feb. 20.

Freshman forward Michael Carrera leads the Gamecocks in scoring with 10.2 points per game.

Although South Carolina has a dismal record at 13-14 overall and 3-11 in the Southeastern Conference, Missouri has trouble performing well on the road. The Tigers have lost four of five on the road by less then double digits, their only win coming against Mississippi State.

Missouri is optimistic that its players have learned from the close losses.

"There's no moral victory, but we are getting better," Oriakhi said about road games. "We just got to close out games."

Supervising editor is Grant Hodder