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Missouri hopes to end three-game slide vs. Central Arkansas

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Missouri will try to put a positive ending to a disappointing nonconference season Saturday when it hosts Central Arkansas in Columbia, Mo.

The Tigers (7-5) return home after suffering a 97-73 loss to then-No. 13 Illinois on Dec. 22 in St. Louis. The Bears (3-11) visit on the heels of an 88-72 loss at No. 12 Oklahoma Thursday.

Missouri coach Dennis Gates hopes the holiday break gave his players a chance to reset and refocus as the Tigers deal with a three-game losing streak.

“Ultimately, you want your guys to be able to come away, especially during this break, with a reflective mindset, meaning what you can do better in this stage as we start to embark on the SEC schedule,” Gates said.

“We just haven’t, this nonconference (schedule), been able to take advantage of playing ranked opponents and coming away with the win. I truly believe that we have been going in the right direction. I truly believe that we have been going in the right direction. I’m not going to rip things apart or make these guys feel like something’s wrong with them. It’s a long season.”

Missouri is paced by guards Sean East II (17.2 points, 3.8 assists per game) and Nick Honor (11.8 ppg). Forward Noah Carter averages 11.4 points and 6.4 rebounds.

Central Arkansas hung tough against Oklahoma despite playing without injured regulars Elias Cato, Camren Hunter and Daniel Sofield.

“Oklahoma is a really good team, and I told the guys that,” Central Arkansas coach Anthony Boone said. “I believe that Oklahoma is built for doing very well once they get to the NCAA Tournament. I really think they can make a run to the Elite Eight or the Final Four. I think they have that kind of team.

“But with that, our guys were up for the challenge today. Everything was urgent for them, and that was really the key. I thought we had some really good possessions defensively.”

The Bears are led by Tucker Anderson, who averages 13.4 points and 3.8 rebounds per game.

–Field Level Media

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