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Kansas Vs. Missouri: RE-Viewing The Tigers

LAWRENCE KS - FEBRUARY 07:  Head coach Mike Anderson of the Missouri Tigers talks with players during the game against the Kansas Jayhawks on February 7 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence Kansas.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
LAWRENCE KS - FEBRUARY 07: Head coach Mike Anderson of the Missouri Tigers talks with players during the game against the Kansas Jayhawks on February 7 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence Kansas. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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The 2010-2011 Missouri Tigers entered the season with high hopes and for the most part they've performed good but not great.  Missouri is likely going to drop out of the top 25 after this weeks loss to Nebraska, but they could do themselves a little bit of a favor with a win over the Jayhawks which in all reality isn't that far of a stretch.

Mike Anderson's Tigers are a very good team in Columbia.  I'd go so far to say that if every game were played in Columbia that might be a conference contender.  But in the real world you have to grow up and go on the road to get a win from time to time and this Tiger team just doesn't do it.  All that said, this one's in Columbia and Kansas will be in for a fight if they want to come away with a win.


AP Poll
SOS Projected

The Players

The Tigers continue to be led by junior guard Marcus Denmon who has had a breakout season of sorts for the Tigers as a junior.  The 6'3" guard has leveled of a bit since the start of conference play, but Denmon is still averaging 16.8 points per contest and an impressive 47% shooting percentage from beyond the arc.  In the six games since the Jayhawks and Tigers last met Denmon has scored 20+ on three separate occasions against Iowa State, Texas Tech and Kansas State.

Junior forward Ricardo Ratliffe continues to provide a big lift for the Tigers on the interior and considering the trouble he gave Kansas early in Lawrence he could be a major factor in this one at home.  Ratliffe, like Denmon, has leveled off slightly since conference play began, but that's expected when competition steps up.  Ratliffe currently averages 10.9 points and 6.4 rebounds per game.

Ratliffe has been overtaken as the teams second leading scorer, a distinction that now belongs to his front court teammate Laurence Bowers.  Bowers is a 6'8" junior that probably has more versatility than Ratliffe and is less of a true interior presence, but he has great athleticism and has really come into his own in terms of basketball IQ over the season. Bowers averages 11.5 points and 6 rebounds per game and the duo of Ratliffe and Bowers will be a handful next year when both are set to be seniors.

Michael Dixon and Kim English are the next two guards in the rotation averaging the most minutes to date for the Tigers with just over 22 minutes per contest each.  Both players average an identical 10.3 points per contest and in a lot of ways it's consistency from these two players that seems to be lacking when Missouri struggles.

Freshman point guard Phil Pressey has seen his role increase since returning to injury and while the freshman averages just 6 points and 4 assists per game it's very easy to project him as a high level player in the league in the very near future.  Pressey is a tough player to guard due to his speed and it's just a matter of time before he settles into his role with Missouri and becomes a solid floor leader.

The lone senior on senior night is forward Justin Safford who will be playing his final game in Columbia.  Safford has seen his time on the court increase, decrease and increase again this season but should be a piece the Tigers look to in a game against a solid Kansas front line.

Matt Pressey, Ricky Kreklow and everyone's favorite Steven Moore round out the Tiger rotation. 



Tiger Trends

When you look at Missouri you have to look at them completely different at home as compared to on the road.  How that translates to them in the tournament remains to be seen, but until the Tigers and Mike Anderson can turn a corner in terms of road wins in the Big 12 they aren't going to be a true contender in the league. 

Fortunately for Missouri, this one is in Columbia and when that has been the case this year the Tigers are undefeated.  The only pseudo home loss you could pin against the Tigers would be Georgetown in Kansas City, but hey that was a "neutral court". 

In terms of recent trends the Tigers have slowly been settling into the role of a fringe top 25 team.  Statistically speaking they are very comparable to Kansas State on a national scale, but Kansas State is playing much better right now and for whatever reason the Tiger "gimmicks" just don't seem to be working on the road.

It's a high scoring offense that is predicated on their defense and the transition game.  You've seen the movie before, most in the Big 12 understand how to beat Missouri, it's just not that easy in Columbia.  Missouri has a great home crowd, we learned that the have the largest differential in fouls called against them on the road vs. at home and what that translates to is a game played exactly the way Mike Anderson wants it played. 

Offensive Averages:

8th / 2nd
11th / 2nd
127th / 7th
FG Pct
34th / 4th

Defensive Averages:

250th / 2nd
209th / 2nd
284th / 7th
FG Pct
178th / 4th


Prediction Time

This is a tough on, real tough.  Missouri is going to be extremely motivated coming off a loss to Nebraska and staring an 8-8 conference record square in the face with a loss.  That's the very definition of mediocrity especially when it has the potential to lump you in with Baylor and either Nebraska or Colorado in the conference standings.  Grab a win and the Tigers can still hope to hold on to that 4th spot in the Big12 tournament and a first round bye.

For Kansas the stakes aren't nearly as high.  It's becoming more clear that his is a likely top seed.  They've secured a 7th straight conference title and despite what the players say about wanting to win it outright I think that has to creep into the back of their minds at least a little.

Missouri gives Kansas all they want and more in this one.  Whether Kansas can come out of that with a win depends on how the team responds to that challenge and it's going to have to be a whole lot more convincing than how they responded in Manhattan.

Kansas KU 83.1 52.1 67.4 39.5 38.0 11.3 26.7 18.3 13.4 8.5 4.5 17.6
Missouri Mizzou 82.0 46.9 72.7 37.9 35.8 12.6 23.3 16.8 13.0 9.6 5.2 19.9
Kansas KU Opponents 64.5 39.7 72.0 29.7 30.7 10.5 20.2 11.2 14.9 6.0 2.8 19.5



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