January 30, 2008

Breakdown: Short-handed Tigers host Huskers

The Missouri Tigers return home on Wednesday night following their first road win of the year over the weekend. They also return home missing four of the five players who started that game, and a key reserve. PowerMizzou.com breaks down the matchup.

Missouri Keys to the Game

First and foremost, can they stop Maric? Really, that could be the only key to the game. Maric has the ability, literally, to make Missouri play four-on-five. If Carroll, Volkus and Justin Safford spend their night sending Maric to the line, it is a distinct possibility the Tigers could find themselves finishing the game with only four players on the floor. Mizzou will likely zone Nebraska all night long to try to limit Maric's effectiveness. Next, the Tigers have to get the Lawrences going on offense. Outside of Carroll, these two are the only players you can expect to do a whole lot offensively. At least one, and probably both, of them have to have big nights. Finally, Missouri has to get a lift from an unexpected source. Volkus, Tiller, Safford, Nick Berardini, Mike Anderson, Jr. One of those five has to provide a spark for this team to win.

Nebraska Keys to the Game

The Huskers have to get the ball in Maric's hands every single possession. Not most of them. Every one. He can win this game almost single-handedly. Nebraska has to ask him to do it. Coming off that, Nebraska has to have somebody knock down a couple outside shots. Missouri will dare the Huskers to make anyone but Maric the offensive star. If Harley, Miller or Anderson is hitting from outside, Missouri has almost no shot to win this game because they'll have to respect the guards and leave Maric more chances. Finally, most teams want to slow it down against Mizzou. Nebraska should run and run and run some more. Missouri just doesn't have the bodies. The Tigers will suit up only eight, and three of those guys have seen almost no significant court time this season. Missouri simply can't be in condition to go up and down for 40 minutes. Carroll, Tiller, Matt and Keon Lawrence will all probably log well over 35 minutes. They will be exhausted by the end of the night. Nebraska should push the pace as much as possible.

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