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Missouri men's basketball gets rematch against Vanderbilt

Tuesday, February 18, 2014 | 9:58 p.m. CST; updated 6:40 a.m. CST, Wednesday, February 19, 2014

COLUMBIA — Next up for the Missouri men's basketball team (18-7, 6-6 Southeastern Conference) is a rematch Wednesday night inside Mizzou Arena against Vanderbilt (14-10, 6-6). In their first matchup, Vanderbilt dealt Missouri a 78-75 defeat in Nashville.

That 78-point output is Vanderbilt's highest in conference play. The Commodores made a season-high 12 3-pointers that night, including six from senior forward Rod Odom, who led all scorers with 24 points.

“Their numbers are not great in terms of what they’re doing in league play, but they made a lot of 3s against us, particularly Odom, who’s the one guy that’s been consistent,” Missouri coach Frank Haith said Monday afternoon. “We know (Dai-Jon) Parker and (Kyle) Fuller both can make 3s, and we’ve got to do a good job of getting back, setting our defense and not letting them be comfortable making a lot of 3s. And that’s how teams can beat you — when they get going making a lot of 3s.

Despite having just seven scholarship players, the Commodores are 6-6 in SEC play, having won five of their last seven games. Haith, though, doesn’t anticipate his team playing more aggressively than usual to try and get a thin Commodores team in foul trouble.

“Everybody would tell you that you would want to do that, but you’ve just got to play,” Haith said. “I think the possessions are what they are. We don’t have to make any adjustments on who we are. I think we play in transition.”

Haith credits Vanderbilt’s “really good” starting five for the team’s recent success, along with coach Kevin Stallings for being able to effectively manage such a shallow bench.

“Their five starters are very good, and Rod is having an outstanding year, too, but there’s no question Kevin’s done a tremendous job,” Haith said.

Odom leads Vanderbilt with 14.7 points per game on 43 percent shooting. Another player singled out by Haith was 6-foot-10, 235-pound freshman Damion Jones, who’s averaging 11.2 points per game and a team-high 5.8 rebounds.

“I think Damian is one of the better big kids, in terms of a young kid, in our league,” Haith said. “He’s tremendous. He’s going to have a terrific career.”

And while Haith insisted he doesn’t pay attention to national pundits’ postseason projections, he acknowledged this is a bigger-than-average game for his team.

“We know Wednesday’s a big game,” Haith said. “They’re all big, but you’re playing a team that’s right there with you that’s beaten you once, so it’s a big game.”

Supervising editor is Erik Hall.


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