Big 12 Conference (22-10, 10-6)
Big Wins: 1/9 Kansas State (74-68), 1/30 Oklahoma State (95-80), 2/17 Texas (82-77)
Bad Losses: 12/9 at Oral Roberts (59-60), 1/16 at Oklahoma (61-66), 3/10 vs Nebraska (60-75)
Last NCAA Appearance: 2009, Elite Eight loss to Connecticut
Coach: Mike Anderson (6-4 in 4 NCAA appearances)
Why They Can Surprise:
Missouri is coming off an Elite Eight appearance and Coach Mike Anderson’s 40 minutes of hell is in full force. The Tigers will continually press on defense and push the tempo on offense. The team leads the nation with xxx steals per game and six players average at least one steal per contest. J.T. Tiller and Zaire Taylor make the offense tick. Taylor is the better shooter of the two and Tiller will get to the basket quite a bit, but together those two take great care of the ball and push it up the floor without turning it over.
Kim English is the other usual starter on the perimeter and he is the go-to-scorer. English is a prolific outside shooter, but he is also 6-6 and that always makes him a threat to get to the basket. Coach Anderson has the players to run as much as he wants. Nine or ten players are in the regular rotation, seven of whom average at least six points per game, and nobody averages more than 27 minutes per contest. That depth allows every player to give it their all on every play knowing that when they need a rest, they will get it.
Why They Can Disappoint:
As is often the case on a Coach Anderson team, rebounding is a problem. The frontcourt lost a couple key players last year and nobody really knew what to expect from the returning players. And matters got worse in late February when Justin Safford tore an ACL and will miss the tournament, which will force Steve Moore into seeing more playing time, but he is dealing with his own injuries. Safford was the guy who could stretch out the defense with his outside shooting ability, but it is Keith Ramsey who is expected to do the dirty work under the basket and grab as many rebounds as possible. Sophomore Laurence Bowers rarely cracked the starting lineup until Safford got hurt, but he is the Tigers third leading scorer and is a player who not only can stretch out the defense with his shooting ability, but also score in the paint, hit the glass and block some shots.
Who To Watch:
Marcus Denmon is the perfect player for providing a spark off the bench. He is averaging 10.8 points per game and connects on an impressive 42.5 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc. With Michael Dixon Jr., who is also a solid outside shooter, and Miguel Paul available off the bench, Coach Anderson can keep the offensive weapons firing from everywhere on the floor at all times. And, more importantly, keep his players fresh for defensive purposes.
J.T. Tiller, Senior, Guard, 8.8 ppg, 3.2 apg, 1.5 spg
Zaire Taylor, Senior, Guard, 8.2 ppg, 2.6 apg, 1.8 spg
Kim English, Sophomore, Guard, 13.9 ppg, 1.2 apg
Laurence Bowers, Sophomore, Forward, 10.2 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 1.3 bpg
Keith Ramsey, Senior, Forward, 6.0 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 1.2 bpg
Marcus Denmon, Sophomore, Guard, 10.8 ppg, 1.4 apg
Michael Dixon Jr., Freshman, Guard, 7.2 ppg, 1.6 apg
Steve Moore, Sophomore, Forward, 1.1 ppg, 1.5 rpg
Miguel Paul, Sophomore, Guard, 3.5 ppg, 1.7 apg
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 78.1 (24th in nation, 4th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 65.5 (98, 4)
Field-Goal Percentage: 44.4 (124, 7)
Field-Goal Defense: 40.5 (56, 5)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.7 (45, 3)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 37.2 (51, 6)
Free-Throw Percentage: 72.5 (55, 4)
Rebound Margin: -2.2 (257, 10)
Assists Per Game: 15.5 (31, 2)
Turnovers Per Game: 13.3 (133, 7)
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