On Tuesday evening (6:00 P.M., ESPN2), the #20/#21 Missouri Tigers (19-6, 5-5) play host to the Texas Tech Red Raiders (11-14, 3-7), in Big 12 Conference action. The Red Raiders are coming off of a 67-70 home loss to Texas A&M.
Missouri's most recent outing was an 84-61 rout of Oklahoma, in Columbia.
Coach Pat Knight faced off against Texas A&M without his full arsenal, when 6'5" senior F Mike Singletary (13.2 points/game, 5.9 rebounds/game) developed a calf injury, and played just 4 ineffective minutes against A&M. On Monday, Coach Knight indicated that Singletary has been cleared by the team doctor for the game at Missouri, although he didn't sound too confident regarding what he could expect from his second-leading scorer.
Tech's leading scorer is 5'11" senior G John Roberson (13.4 points/game, 4.1 assists/game), who is also hitting 44% of his 3-PT attempts. He's a tough match-up, because of his quickness off of the dribble, in addition to his excellent perimeter shooting. Singletary, if he's able to play, does his scoring inside the arc, and at the FT line.
The Red Raiders shoot 39% as a team from behind the arc. In addition to Roberson, Tech's primary 3-PT threats are 6'6" senior F Brad Reese (11.7 points/game, 4.3 rebounds/game, 35% 3-PT FG%), and 6'3" senior G David Tairu (9.1 points/game, 39% 3-PT FG%).
Completing the Red Raiders' starting line-up is 6'10" junior F/C Robert Lewandowski (9.1 points/game, 5 rebounds/game).
If Singletary is unable to play, Coach Knight will likely turn to 6'7" senior F D'Walyn Roberts, who is usually first off of the bench for the Red Raiders.
Regulars off of the bench for Coach Knight include 6'7" freshman F Jaye Crockett, 6'8" junior F Paul Cooper, and 5'11" freshman G Javarez Willis. Crockett is a versatile player whom Coach Knight compared to some of the interchangeable guys that Missouri has on its roster.
A couple of other reserves, 6'2" sophomore G Mike Davis, and 6'4" senior G Wally Dunn, have seen very limited action for the Red Raiders during conference play.
Texas Tech has been outscored in conference play by an average of 11.6 points/game. In conference games, the Red Raiders have been outrebounded by a margin of 4.9 rebounds/game, have committed 14.7 turnovers/game, and own an assists/turnover ratio of 0.8 A/T. The Red Raiders do not rank in the top 50 nationally in any statistical category.
Coach Knight talked about playing at Missouri.
"The atmosphere there is great," began Coach Knight. "Especially for their style of play............................. There's not much you can do (to prepare for Missouri). You've just got to go against that press. They're the hardest to go against........................ That style of play, kids don't understand. They like playing against it, but as coaches, we don't like playing against it, because they get you going too fast. What looks like a good shot to the player, is a bad shot, because you're rushed, you're hurrying. And then, you've got to take care of the basketball. From a playing stand point, it's just a mess!"
Coach Knight went on to say that he begins preparing his team to go against Missouri's press from the beginning of the pre-season, but he lamented that they don't ever play anyone else that plays like Missouri.
Missouri's leading scorer is Marcus Denmon (16.2 points/game, 3.8 rebounds/game, 2 steals/game), who received a laceration under his right eye on Saturday, when he took an elbow under the basket from his teammate, Laurence Bowers. On Monday, Coach Anderson said that Denmon had participated in shooting on Sunday, but had been held out of contact. It sounds like Denmon will probably be able to play on Tuesday.
Bowers (10.9 points/game, 5.8 rebounds/game, 2 blocked shots/game), and Ricardo Ratliffe (11.8 points/game, 6.4 rebounds/game), provide Missouri with a formidable inside attack. On the season, Ratliffe is shooting 59% from the field, and in Big 12 games, Ratliffe's 65% FG% ranks first in the conference. In addition, Marcus Denmon's 48% FG% ranks 7th in the conference.
Of late, Coach Anderson has inserted freshman Phil Pressey (6.8 points/game, 4 assists/game) into the starting line-up, and has been bringing sophomore Mike Dixon (10.4 points/game, 3.9 assists/game) off of the bench. This gives the Tigers a very productive duo out top, as the two of them have combined to apply relentless defensive pressure on the basketball throughout the game. At times, Coach Anderson has inserted both Phil Pressey and Dixon into the game together, and that has also proved to be effective.
Statistically, Missouri ranks among the nation's best in a number of categories. At 83.5 points/game, the Tigers rank 7th nationally, and 2nd in the Big 12 Conference, in scoring. Missouri ranks 16th nationally, and 3rd in the Big 12, in scoring margin. The Tigers rank 12th nationally, and 2nd in the conference, with 17 assists/game, and Missouri's assist/turnover ratio of 1.34 ranks 19th in the country, and 2nd in the Big 12.
Missouri's 5.4 blocked shots/game ranks 20th nationally, and 1st in the Big 12 Conference. The Tigers also lead the Big 12 Conference with 9.7 steals/game, which ranks 3rd nationally, and in turnover margin. Missouri's turnover margin of 5.7 turnovers/game ranks 2nd nationally.
In Big 12 Conference games, Phil Pressey's 49% 3-PT FG% ranks 3rd in the conference, and his 2.3 steals/game is 1st in Big 12 games this season. His teammate, Marcus Denmon, has 1.9 steals/game in conference games, which ranks 3rd in the Big 12.
"The focus on our team right now is defensively," said Coach Anderson, talking about his team. "Let's do the things defensively, and the offense will take care of itself."
Missouri Texas Tech
FGM: 755 648
FGA: 1613 1451
FG %: .468 .447
3pt FGM: 189 133
3pt FGA: 503 371
3FG %: .376 .358
FTM: 388 393
FTA: 532 547
FT % .729 .718
Points: 2087 1822
Per Game: 83.5 72.9
Reb./Gm 36.8 33.0
Steals 9.7 5.8
Assists: 17.0 13.3
Blocks: 5.4 4.5