Republished from the Jefferson City News Tribune
COLUMBIA, Mo. — The Missouri and Elon basketball teams have never faced one another, but they do share one distinction: both have been stopping points for current Tulsa coach Frank Haith.
Haith graduated from Elon in 1988 and served as an assistant coach there for three years, the same number of seasons he spent as Missouri’s head coach. Haith’s replacement, Kim Anderson, hopes to earn his fifth win of the season when the Tigers host Elon today (SEC Network, 6 p.m.).
The Tigers are hoping to rebound from their 82-63 loss to Oklahoma. The game was Missouri’s first true road game of the season.
“Once you get down, it’s pretty hard to get back up,” freshman Namon Wright said of playing on the road. “So you’ve got to stay aggressive, stay attacking and stay in the game, the whole game, because once you get down on the road, it’s hard to recover.”
Elon, meanwhile, brings a three-game winning streak to Mizzou Arena. The Phoenix have hit triple digits in their last two games, defeating Virginia University of Lynchburg 111-55 and Central Pennsylvania 117-73. The Phoenix (5-3) average 78.5 points per game, compared to Missouri’s 63.9.
Elon took Big Ten foe Northwestern to overtime in a 1-point loss Nov. 22. After tonight’s game with the Tigers, the Phoenix get the pleasure of facing No. 2 Duke on Monday.
Tanner Samson leads Elon with his 13.8 points per game. He is averaging just less than four made 3-pointers per game.
Here are a few fun facts about Elon:
• Elon’s mascot was the Fighting Christian until 2000, when the school moved to Division I and it was changed to the Phoenix. The Fighting Christian was a play off nearby mascots such as the Wake Forest Demon Deacons and the Duke Blue Devils.
• Elon’s most famous alum is Jack McKeon, former Major League Baseball manager.
• Students in their first year of school at Elon are referred to “first-years” instead of “freshmen.” The change was made this year to make the term gender neutral.
• Matheny was an assistant coach at Davidson during the Stephen Curry days, when the Wildcats reached the Elite Eight.
• There are fewer than 6,000 undergrad students in attendance at Elon. Missouri has more than 27,000 undergraduates.
• This is Elon’s first season in the Colonial Athletic Association, formerly the home of NCAA Tournament Cinderellas Virginia Commonwealth University and George Mason. Elon previously played in the Southern Conference. Today’s game marks Missouri’s first against a CAA opponent.