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February 10, 2010
Scouting the Cyclones: Tonight's keys
Missouri looks win its second straight and start up a new home winning streak tonight. The Iowa State Cyclones come to town looking to put a major dent in Missouri's tournament hopes. PowerMizzou.com takes a look at five factors to watch in the pivotal Big 12 matchup.
Contain Marquis Gilstrap
This one will cause most to do a double-take. If you're going to stop one player, you would think it would have to be Craig Brackins. But Brackins has been putting on a show in Ames for three years now and the Cyclones haven't been all that good. Gilstrap is the likely newcomer of the year in the Big 12, averaging 14.7 points and a team-high 9.2 rebounds. Missouri can survive a show from Brackins (as it did when James Anderson put up 31 for Oklahoma State), but if Gilstrap compliments him with a big game, things could get interesting in a hurry. It will be interesting to see who draws the assignments to defend the ISU duo.
Led by Brackins and Gilstrap, Iowa State can hit the boards a little bit. The Clones are fifth in the league in total rebounds and sixth in rebounding margin. Missouri did well against Colorado, but the Buffs just can't rebound at all. The Tigers will have to be far better on the boards than they were against Texas A&M the last time they played at home.
This is not a strength for these Tigers. Against most teams, Mizzou has an athletic advantage by putting Justin Safford, Keith Ramsey and Laurence Bowerson the perimeter and letting them work from the outside in. Not here. Brackins and Gilstrap can match up athletically with the Tiger forwards and take away a lot of the mid-range and driving opportunities. Missouri is going to need its big men to work in the paint and try to get one or both of the Cyclone forwards in foul trouble.
Guard the line
Though the numbers may be skewed since Lucca Steiger left the team, Iowa State is shooting 40% from three-point range on the season. That's good enough for third in the Big 12. Missouri is the best three-point defensive team in the league with opponents making only 30.4%. Something's got to give here. Iowa State can stay in this game by shooting well from the perimeter. Missouri can turn it into a laugher by preventing that.
Turn it over
Here's the scariest statistic for the Cyclones: Iowa State is last in the league in turnover margin. Missouri leads the nation in turnovers forced. ISU gives it up an average of 14 times per game and is forcing just 12 miscues by the opponent. If the Clones can keep the turnovers under 15, they've got a shot. But almost no one has been able to do that against Mizzou.
Breakdown and prediction
Missouri found a little bit of its mojo against Colorado. The Buffs aren't all that good, but the Cyclones aren't a lot better (ISU beat Colorado by a point in Ames). Brackins should get his points, but the Tigers have to make sure Gilstrap isn't matching him. Outside of those two, ISU just doesn't have the horses to score with Missouri. The Tigers should be able to turn the ball over and get easy points against the Clones. This one really shouldn't be that close in Columbia. Missouri wins its second straight 86-73.