On Saturday evening (6:30 P.M., MSN), the #14/#15 Missouri Tigers (17-5, 3-4) will play host to the Colorado Buffaloes (15-8, 4-4), in Big 12 conference action. Colorado comes into Mizzou Arena off of a 95-69 home win over Iowa State.
Missouri will be glad to play at home, after failing to win on the road again, with a 70-76 loss at Oklahoma State.
"Colorado's coming in, and they're playing well," said Coach Anderson. "They're playing with a lot of confidence."
These two teams met in Boulder earlier this season, and the Buffaloes came out on top by the final score of 89-76. As Missouri saw first-hand in Boulder, Colorado is more than willing to push the pace on the offensive end. And, under first-year Head Coach Tad Boyle, the Buffaloes are playing much better defense than they have in many years.
Colorado is scoring 81.6 points/game, which ranks in the top 15 nationally, and are led by a high-scoring tandem of guards, in 6'6" sophomore Alec Burks (19.8 points/game, 5.9 rebounds/game, 2.3 assists/game), and 6'5" senior Cory Higgins (16.2 points/game, 3.6 rebounds/game, 2.5 assists/game). Burks had a career-high 36 points against Missouri last month.
Coach Boyle has regularly played an eight-man rotation, including sharpshooting 6'4" senior G Levi Knutson (11.6 points/game), who comes in off of the bench for the Buffaloes, and is hitting 50% of his 3-PT shots, to help keep defenses honest.
Colorado's starting line-up has remained intact for much of the season, and includes 6'7" senior F Marcus Relphorde (11.5 points/game, 4.0 rebounds/game, 2.5 assists/game), 6'9" junior F Austin Dufault (8 points/game, 4.5 rebounds/game), and 6'3" junior G Nate Tomlinson (3.3 points/game, 2.5 assists/game).
A pair of youngsters who add quality depth to Coach Boyle's rotation are 6'7" freshman G Andre Roberson (6.7 points/game, 7.5 rebounds/game), and 6'1" RSF G Shannon Sharpe.
Big 12 Conference play has not been kind to Missouri, at least on the road, where the Tigers are 0-4 in conference. So, maybe some home cooking will cure what has been ailing Coach Anderson's men.
Missouri is averaging 83.1 points/game, which ranks in the top 10 nationally, but the Tigers are scoring just 76 points/game in league action.
Only Ricardo Ratliffe and Phil Pressey are scoring more in conference games than they did during non-conference action. Ratliffe is scoring 12.1 points/game during league games, compared with 11.6 points/game overall. Flip is scoring 7.1 points/game, and dishing out 3.9 assists/game, in conference games, compared with 5.9 points/game, and 2.2 assists/game overall.
Marcus Denmon, Missouri's leading scorer, is finding himself to be the target of opposing defenses during league play. He's scoring just 15.6 points/game in league games, compared with 16.7 points/game overall. Predictably, conference teams are running Denmon off of the 3-PT line. His 3-PT FGAs are down, and his 3-PT FG% is down, in conference play. But, along with Ratliffe, and Laurence Bowers, Denmon is still one of Missouri's best options, a fact that some of his teammates need to more fully comprehend.
Missouri's defense has been less effective during conference play. Conference foes are turning the ball over less frequently (-4 turnovers/game), and are scoring 5 points/game more against Missouri than
during non-conference action.
"We've got to get back to doing the things that made us successful early in the year," lamented Coach Anderson.
Coach Anderson is looking for answers to his team's struggles on the road. But, for now, there's home, sweet home.
FGM: 666 654
FGA: 1428 1362
FG %: .466 .480
3pt FGM: 167 138
3pt FGA: 444 363
3FG %: .376 .380
FTM: 329 430
FTA: 462 543
FT % .712 .783
Points: 1828 1876
Per Game: 83.1 81.6
Reb./Gm 37.8 35.8
Steals 9.7 7.7
Assists: 17.3 14.0
Blocks: 5.6 2.9