COLUMBIA, Missouri (Ticker) -- No. 18 Missouri gets its first chance to show what it can do without Kareem Rush on Friday night when it opens the season against American University.
Missouri finished sixth in the Big 12 Conference a year ago before making a surprise run in the NCAA Tournament to the West Region final, where it lost to conference rival Oklahoma. That team was led by Rush, who averaged 19.8 points and shot over 40 percent from beyond the arc.
Rush left school and is playing with the Los Angeles Lakers and Missouri also lost guard Clarence Gilbert and his 17.0 points per game to graduation. A pair of frontcourt stalwarts are back in Arthur Johnson and Rickey Paulding.
Johnson averaged 12.2 points and 7.9 rebounds per game while Paulding added 11.9 points and 3.9 rebounds. Junior college star Ricky Clemons is set to start at point guard and replace Wesley Stokes, who transferred to San Diego State.
The Tigers went 13-3 at home last season, including a 7-1 mark in non-conference games.
American won the regular-season title in the Patriot League a year ago before falling on its home floor to Holy Cross in the championship of the conference tournament. The Eagles have three starters back from that team and are coached by former Virginia coach Jeff Jones.