On Saturday afternoon (12:45 P.M., Big 12 Network), the #19/#20 Missouri Tigers (18-6, 4-5), play host to the Oklahoma Sooners (12-11, 4-5). The Sooners are coming off of a 52-68 loss to Texas. Missouri's most recent outing was a 103-86 loss at Kansas.
Oklahoma Head Coach Jeff Capel has shortened his bench during conference play, and has been primarily playing 8 guys in conference, although each of his 5 starters are averaging at least 33 minutes/game.
That would include 6'8" sophomore F Andrew Fitzgerald (13.8 points/game, 5.3 rebounds/game), 6'5" senior G Cade Davis (12.6 points/game, 4.9 rebounds/game), 6'4" sophomore G Steven Pledger (12.3 points/game), 6'6" freshman G Cameron Clark (9.6 points/game, 4.8 rebounds/game), and 6'2" sophomore G Carl Blair Jr. (7.8 points/game, 4.3 assists/game).
Coach Capel's bench consists of 6'7" junior F C.J. Washington, 6'1" freshman G Calvin Newell Jr., and 6'7" freshman F Tyler Neal, none of whom are averaging even as many as 12 minutes/game in conference play.
A pair of Sooner forwards have seen their minutes pretty much disappear during the conference season, including 6'9" junior Nick Thompson, and 6'7" junior F Barry Honoré.
Oklahoma has been badly out-rebounded in most conference games, and are scoring just 65.6 points/game in Big 12 play. The Sooners are turning the ball over 13 times/game, and have fewer assists than turnovers on the season, and in conference games, as well.
Coach Capel's team doesn't shoot the ball especially well. They are making less than 30% of their 3-PT attempts during Big 12 play. Pledger, Davis, and Clark are the only Sooners who take many 3-PT shots. They are each hitting around 37% from behind the arc, so they aren't terrible. They each make enough of them that you have to guard them out there.
The Sooners have good size on the wings, but aren't big up front.
What this all adds up to is a decided advantage for Missouri on their home court, where the Tigers play much, much better than they have played on the road.
I like Coach Anderson's new starting line-up, of Marcus Denmon, Ricardo Ratliffe, Laurence Bowers, Matt Pressey, and Phil Pressey. I like Mike Dixon off of the bench. He is a starter-quality player to bring in for Phil Pressey, or to play along side of Flip. Steve Moore and Ricky Kreklow can give Missouri some help off of the bench.
Ratliffe should have a decided advantage inside. His teammates have to get him the ball down low. Bowers could have a big game against Oklahoma.
A frenzied, or even just an up-tempo, pace would bode well for Missouri.
This week, Coach Anderson assessed his team's recent play, and talked about what the Tigers need to do to get better.
"Our problem is not our scoring," said Coach Anderson. "It's about stopping people............................ We've got to have that (defensive) mentality............................. We've got to get our defense in gear, and be more consistent."
FGM: 725 550
FGA: 1550 1200
FG %: .468 .458
3pt FGM: 182 149
3pt FGA: 484 430
3FG %: .376 .347
FTM: 371 304
FTA: 512 419
FT % .725 .726
Points: 2003 1553
Per Game: 83.5 675
Reb./Gm 36.9 31.4
Steals 9.8 6.0
Assists: 17.0 13.1
Blocks: 5.5 3.0