On Saturday afternoon (12:45 P.M., Big 12 Network), the #20/#21 Missouri Tigers (20-6, 6-5) travel to Ames, IA, to take on the Iowa State Cyclones (14-12, 1-10). Iowa State is coming off of a 71-66 loss at Texas A&M, and Missouri is coming off of a 92-84 win over Texas Tech.
"Iowa State is dangerous at home. Everybody is," said Missouri Head Coach Mike Anderson. "Not only that, but they can really shoot the basketball."
Coach Fred Hoiberg has expanded his playing rotation to include eight players, but he was one player short at A&M, as 6'11" senior F Jamie Vanderbeken (11.3 points/game, 5.2 rebounds/game, 1.8 blocks/game) sat out with an ankle sprain. Vanderbeken is the Cyclones' third-leading scorer, and is making 44% of his 3-PT attempts. Nearly two-thirds of the big man's shots are taken from behind the 3-PT line.
Moving into the Cyclones starting line-up, in place of the injured Vanderbeken, was 6'8" freshman F Calvin Godfrey, who is averaging 5.5 points/game, and 4.8 rebounds/game, in conference play. The Cyclones' younger players have gained almost an entire season of experience, and are playing well.
Leading the way for the Cyclones is a super stat sheet stuffer, in 6'4" senior G Diante Garrett (17.5 points/game, 3.7 rebounds/game, 5.9 assists/game, 1.8 steals/game), and 6'3" junior G Scott Christopherson (14.2 points/game). Christopherson is shooting 46% from behind the arc, while both he and Garrett are averaging over 38 minutes/game in conference play.
Completing Coach Hoiberg's starting line-up are 6'6" freshman F Melvin Ejim (10.8 points/game, 7 rebounds/game), and 6'2" senior G Darion "Jake" Anderson (12.2 points/game, 7.7 rebounds/game). Both of these players have really been playing well of late.
The Cyclones bench consist of 6'1" freshman G Bubu Palo, and 6'11" freshman C Jordan Railey.
In conference play, Iowa State has been just as likely to turn the ball over, as they have been to hand out an assist, with a team-wide 1.0 A/T ratio, in conference play. Although, the guy who usually has the basketball in his hands is Garrett, and the senior guard has a 1.8 A/T ratio.
The Cyclones have been out-rebounded in conference play by almost 7 boards/game, and are being outscored in conference play by 9.4 points/game. Iowa State shoots 38% from 3-PT land as a team, and are also a good FT-shooting team, as well.
The Cyclones are a tough out, and will be even more so at home. Despite their record, they've been in almost every game.
The Tigers are coming off of a series of lackluster defensive performances, where they've really gotten away from their signature style of play. There's no hanging their hat on their defense, or forty minutes of hell, in the way that the Tigers are guarding people ever since Coach Anderson re-inserted Kim English back into the starting line-up. It's as if by doing so, Coach Anderson has sent his team the non-verbal message that playing well on the defensive end is not a requirement.
On the other side of the ledger, Missouri has averaged 88 points/game over their last four, although three of those have been at Mizzou Arena. The Tigers have demonstrated recently that they can get away with outscoring teams at home. But, this one is in Ames, Iowa, and some defense may actually be required, if Missouri is to bring home a win over the Cyclones.
Like Iowa State, Missouri has five players who are averaging in double figures in scoring. Missouri's headliner is junior G Marcus Denmon (16.3 points/game, 3.7 rebounds/game, 1.7 assists/game, 2 steals/game), who is shooting 50% from the field this season, including 45% from 3-PT land.
Laurence Bowers (10.9 points/game, 5.7 rebounds/game) and Ricardo Ratliffe (11.5 points/game, 6.3 rebounds/game), a pair of 6'8" junior forwards, give Missouri a formidable inside duo, to complement their equally dynamic back court. Ratliffe is shooting 64% from the field during Big 12 Conference play.
"I'm just not real happy with our defense," said Coach Anderson. "We've got to play better defense. We're going to be able to score, but we've just got to stop people.............................Something we haven't done in conference play, is find a way to get it done (on the road)."
Missouri Iowa State
FGM: 791 704
FGA: 1675 1610
FG %: .472 .437
3pt FGM: 197 233
3pt FGA: 520 614
3FG %: .379 .379
FTM: 400 323
FTA: 552 440
FT % .725 .734
Points: 2179 1964
Per Game: 83.8 75.5
Reb./Gm 36.6 37.2
Steals 9.7 6.9
Assists: 17.1 15.0
Blocks: 5.4 3.9