Tiger Basketball Preview: Central Arkansas

A familiar face returns to Columbia as head coach of the Central Arkansas Bears, who tip off against the Tigers at Mizzou Arena tonight

On Saturday evening (7:00 P.M., MSN), the #13/#12 Missouri Tigers (9-1) play host to the Central Arkansas Bears (3-7). Central Arkansas is coming off of an appearance in the Etech Lumberjack Classic at Stephen F. Austin's Johnson Coluseum in Nacogdoches (TX), where they defeated Chicago State 85-73 on Friday, then lost 70-60 to Grambling State on Saturday night.

Former Arkansas and NBA player, Corliss Williamson, is in his first year as Head Coach at Central Arkansas, which is located in Conway (AR). Williamson played for Nolan Richardson and Mike Anderson, and he plans to bring his own version of Richardson's "40 Minutes of Hell" to Central Arkansas.

"For me it will be very easy to sell," Williamson said, heading into the season. "Either you play defense or you sit down."

The Bears are forcing opponents into 18 turnovers/game, and Coach Williamson is playing 8-10 players. The Bears are assisting on 55% of their field goals, with 14.5 assists/game, but are turning the ball over themselves at the rate of 15.6 turnovers/game.

Central Arkansas is averaging 72.6 points/game, and have 6 players who have attempted at least two 3-PT FGAs/game. The Bears have two double-digit scorers, both of whom are currently coming off of the bench, and 6 more players who are averaging at least 6 points/game. What Central Arkansas doesn't have is much size, with just 3 players in the rotation who are listed taller than 6'4". That shows up statistically on the boards, where the Bears have frequently been outrebounded. Coach Williamson has been shuffling his starting line-up. Sound familiar?

One guy who has remained in the Bears' starting line-up is 6'4" junior G Mark Rutledge, who leads the team in minutes played, at 27.8 minutes/game, and averages 9.4 points/game, and 2.6 assists/game. Rutledge sports one of the Bears' better A/T ratios too, at 1.36 A/T.

For Missouri, who is coming off of a 19-point win over Oral Roberts, Marcus Denmon is scoring 16 points/game, and is one of five Missouri players currently scoring in double-digits. Besides Denmon (3.9 rebounds/game, 1.9 assists/game, 1.8 steals/game, 1.7 A/T ratio, 50% FG%, 50% 3-PT FG%, 89% FT%), who does everything for the Tigers, that quintet includes Ricardo Ratliffe (11.7 points/game, 7.7 rebounds/game), Laurence Bowers (11.1 points/game, 6.2 rebounds/game), Kim English (10.9 points/game), and Michael Dixon (10.7 points/game, 4.3 assists/game, 2.6 A/T ratio).

It is not known if Dixon will be available against Central Arkansas, as he was suspended indefinitely by Coach Anderson prior to the Oral Roberts' game, for what was described as a violation of team rules.

Freshman Phil Pressey (4.2 points/game, 3.4 assists/game, 1.8 A/T ratio) started in Dixon's place against Oral Roberts, and he performed very well, as did another freshman, Ricky Kreklow (3 points/game, 43% 3-PT FG%).

Missouri goes ten-deep, and the Tigers are not only outrebounding their opponents, but are forcing their opponents into more than 20 turnovers/game. The Tigers are averaging 16.9 assists/game, and have assisted on 56% of their made baskets. The Tigers are outscoring opponents by more than 12 points/game, and have outshot their opponents from the field, from behind the arc, and at the FT line.

This one should be fun, as Coach Williamson would like his Central Arkansas team to look a lot like Missouri.

Comparative Statistics

Mizzou Central Arkansas

FGM: 302 262

FGA: 653 595

FG %: .462 .440

3pt FGM: 74 70

3pt FGA: 197 197

3FG %: .376 .355

FTM: 151 132

FTA: 210 188

FT % .719 .702

Points: 829 726

Per Game: 82.9 72.6

Reb./Gm 36.3 34.4

Steals 9.9 8.2

Assists: 16.9 14.5

Blocks: 5.1 3.0

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