What you should know about the Princeton Tigers No. 15 ahead of Mizzou-Basketball clash

Missouri’s next NCAA tournament opponent is quite unexpected.

There haven’t been many seeders between No. 15 and No. 2 in the tournament’s history, but unfortunately it was Arizona’s latest casualty, falling 59-54 to Princeton.

Now MU can take on the Ivy League Tigers and try to avoid the fate of the 2012 Missouri team that fell as a No. 2 at No. 15 (Norfolk State).

“Missouri is really good, really good,” said Princeton head coach Mitch Henderson. “They play great. We caught a bit of the end of their game. This will be a fun challenge.”

Ahead of Saturday’s matchup in Sacramento, which begins at 5:10 p.m. and will air on TNT, here’s what you need to know about Princeton.

Bring down Arizona

The Tigers weren’t expected to keep up with Arizona.

The Wildcats went into the game 28-6 and drove high after beating UCLA to capture the Pac-12 tournament.

Obviously nobody told Princeton it should topple over. Arizona took an early lead and kept it most of the time, but the Tigers stayed much closer than most expected.

“I think in those games, in those moments, you have to remember what brought you here,” Henderson said before the game. “Of course we have a lot of respect for our opponent. It’s amazing to be here and to be together. But you have to be yourself.”

In the final 4:43 of the game, the Tigers did just that. They held Arizona to zero points in that period and allowed enough passing offensively to give themselves a chance.

With 2:03 left, Ryan Landborg made the shot that gave Princeton the final lead. With five seconds left, Arizona took a three to take the lead but missed, allowing Princeton to seal the game at the free-throw line.

“If we do our best, we believe we can beat anyone,” Tiger striker Tosan Evbuomwan said after the upset. “A great program, a selfless one that plays our brand of basketball.

When time ran out, the Tigers became only the 11th No. 15 to win against a No. 2 in NCAA tournament history. The win gave the Ivy League its first win at the event since 2016.

How Princeton got here

Princeton currently sits 22-8 on the season, 10-4 in Ivy League play. The Tigers did the big dance after winning the Ivy League tournament.

“We played our best basketball last weekend,” Henderson said. “We were only in the tournament on Sunday at 2.”

In their first Ivy League tournament game, the No. 2-seeded Tigers met No. 3 Penn for the second straight season after the regular-season final ended in Princeton’s overtime win. Henderson and co. sent out the Quakers and won a championship match fight with Yale.

Princeton had lost two duels against the Bulldogs in the regular season, the first with an 87-65 loss on the road, the second with a 93-83 home loss in overtime. Yale, the No. 1 seed, was favored at 3.5 to enter the title game.

In the championship, the Tigers took the lead early on, but the Bulldogs never went away. Yale twice reduced the deficit to three in the second half, but an offensive rebound from Caden Pierce helped seal the deal and send Princeton to the NCAA tournament.

Despite the low starting spot for March Madness, Henderson made it clear he felt his team belonged.

“There are some great powerhouse programs here. They probably don’t think of us in the same spirit that UCLA and Arizona do, but we do,” Henderson said. “Our mission is to recruit nationally. Our goal is to attract the best student-athletes in the country and get them to come to Princeton. Feel like we did. You will see that with our players. We have a great group.”

Who are Princeton’s best players?

Princeton is led by Evbuomwan, who leads the Tigers with 15 points per game. He’s also the team leader with 4.8 assists per game and 6.2 rebounds.

Evbuomwan, who is 6ft 8 tall, came to Princeton from his hometown of Newcastle, England.

“It’s just a great university, it offers you the best when it comes to playing basketball at the highest level,” he said of what drew him to the Tigers. “Of course, the academics are also at the highest level. Just the people are great. People who are both present in the program now and were in the past. The coaching staff, all my teammates, of course they are all great people.”

Evbuomwan was named the Ivy League Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player after dropping 21 points in the league game. Last season he was named Player of the Year by the conference.

Pierce, who also made the Ivy League All-Tournament Team, led the Tigers in rebounds, averaging 7.1 per game. He was named the conference’s Rookie of the Year that season after coming to Princeton after attending high school in Illinois.

In addition to rebounds, Pierce has averaged 8.3 points per game. He totaled eight rebounds and six points against Arizona.

“It’s just the toughness of this team, making those winning games, getting an offensive rebound, getting an attack, getting a ball that you shouldn’t,” Pierce said of what his team was doing in the Arizona excitement made so successful. “I think this team has a knack for finding a way to do these things. It really helped us

Source : ca.sports.yahoo.com

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