March 21, 2009

Frontcourt matchup key in round two

BOISE, ID--Going into Missouri's first round game against Cornell, Leo Lyons said he knew he had an advantage over Big Red center Jeff Foote in quickness and athleticism. Lyons exploited that edge to the tune of 23 points and ten rebounds (four offensive). But in round two, Lyons and DeMarre Carroll may meet up with a forward that possesses similar versatility.

The Golden Eagles start 6-foot-6 Lazar Hayward at one forward spot. Like Lyons and Carroll, Hayward does plenty of his damage outside of the low post.

"I think Lazar's a really good player," Marquette coach Buzz Williams said. "I don't know that he compares to Carroll or to Lyons."

The numbers say that he does. For the season, Hayward averages 16.4 points (just a shade less than Carroll) and 8.6 rebounds (more than either Tiger). He is shooting 47% from the floor. More than a third of his 421 shots have come from three-point range, and he has made 53 triples on the year. Like the Tiger duo, Hayward is as comfortable shooting a jumper or putting the ball on the floor as he is operating on the block.

"I watched Hayward, he's a pretty good player," Lyons said. "He's a great shooter."

Hayward's frontcourt mate is 6-foot-8, 250-pounder Dwight Burke. Burke is more of a bruiser who will stay in the lane. While Hayward may be able to match Mizzou's athletic ability at one spot, Burke will have a tough time doing so at the other.

"The combination of the two, maybe sometimes you see a team with one of those guys, but when you see a team with two of those guys, it makes it really hard to defend both of them," the Marquette coach said. "Both of those guys can score with their back to the basket, both of those guys can bring it in transition, and both of those guys, no matter where they catch it, can face you up and they're really hard to guard off the bounce...I don't think that they get enough credit for how efficient they are offensively."

Mizzou and Marquette will tip off at approximately 2:50 local time in Boise on Sunday afternoon. will have complete coverage of the game.

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