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January 31, 2009
Tigers face Baylor in big game
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Missouri looks to rebound from a big loss against Kansas State and pick up Big 12 win No. 5 against the Baylor Bears on Saturday. Missouri is 17-and-4 and 4-and-2 in Big 12 play. Baylor is 15-and-5 and 3-and-3. Missouri leads the series 10-9, including 7-2 in Columbia. PowerMizzou.com has the preview:
Dialing Long Distance: The Bears are second in the league in three-point attempts (452) and percentage (38.9). Baylor is led by Lacedarius Dunn who has already hit 66 three-pointers on the season.
Run and Gun: Most teams don't get up and down the floor like Missouri, but Baylor is one that does. The Bears rank just behind Missouri in both scoring offense (82.2 per game, third in the league) and scoring defense (69.6, 10th).
Guard Heavy: Baylor may have the most talented stable of guards in the league. Dunn and Curtis Jerrells both rank among the league leaders in scoring. Tweedy Carter is 13th in assists and is a former McDonald's All-American. Henry Dugat has a good blend of talent and experience. The big men for Baylor are good, but it's the guards that make them go.
High Water Mark: Mizzou has already surpassed its win total from the 2007-08 season when the Tigers finished 16-and-16. A victory tonight would give the Tigers 18, matching the total from Anderson's first season on the job. In fact, the last time the Tigers won more than 18 games was 2002-03, when they went 22-and-11. That was also the last time Missouri played in the NCAA tournament.
Home Sweet Home: Missouri has not lost a game at Mizzou Arena this season. Going back to the home finale last year, Mizzou has won 14 in a row on its home court. A win Saturday would give the Tigers their longest home winning streak since the 1993-94 season.
Second Wave: Missouri is averaging 33.1 points per game off the bench this season, including a season-high 62 points from the reserves against Colorado. That number has been helped with the Tigers' new look lineup that brings seniors Matt Lawrence and Leo Lyons off the pine. That pair combined for 30 points at Kansas State.
Defend the Perimeter: When the Bears are on, they can shoot just about anyone right out of a game. Jerrells, Dunn and Carter are all capable of going off from behind the three-point line. Mizzou had been one of the league's best in three-point percentage defense (and in fact still ranks third) prior to the game at Kansas State. Jacob Pullen and Fred Brown combined to go 10-for-13 from behind the arc in the Wildcats' 88-72 win. If Missouri allows Baylor as many open looks as Kansas State had, they're in a world of hurt.
Win the turnover battle: Everyone knows turnovers are a key to Mike Anderson's system. The Tigers are forcing second in the country, forcing 7.1 more turnovers per game than they commit. Mizzou is forcing a turnover on 26.6% of its opponents possessions and turning those into more than 20 points per game. If you're looking for a reason the Tigers were blown out by Kansas State, Mizzou committed 17 turnovers and got only 16. Thirteen of the Tiger miscues came in the first half.
Back to the Eighties: Missouri is second in the Big 12 in scoring at 84.8 points per game. When Mizzou has scored at least 80 points this season, the Tigers are 14-and-0. When they've failed to hit 80, they are 3-and-3. Even more glaring, Missouri has been held under 75 points just four times. The Tigers have lost all four.
Official Prediction: This is going to be a fun game with both teams getting up and down the floor. The Tigers' offensive strength is the frontcourt, while the Bears are better in the backcourt. But the Baylor forwards are closer to Missouri's than the Tiger guards are to the Bears. Baylor has a world of talent, but has been inconsistent. Still, we think they shoot well enough to win and go with the Bears 96-91.
PowerMizzou.com will provide complete coverage from Mizzou Arena tonight.
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