On Saturday (11:00 A.M., CBS), the #22/#24 Missouri Tigers (22-8, 8-7) play host to the #2 Kansas Jayhawks (28-2, 13-2) in Big 12 Conference action. Kansas comes into Mizzou Arena following a 64-51 home win over Texas A&M, whereas Missouri is coming off of a 69-58 loss at Nebraska.
In the two teams' previous meeting, last month in Lawrence, the Jayhawks prevailed 103-86.
"Mike (Anderson)'s got his guys playing well," said Kansas Head Coach Bill Self. "They lost a tough one on Saturday, but that's what happens on the road in this league. So, it'll be tough...................... But, we know we're going to have to play our best ball."
The leading scorers for Coach Self's Jayhawks are the Morris twins, 6'9" junior F Marcus Morris, who is averaging 18.6 points/game and 7.4 rebounds/game in conference play, 6'10" junior C Markieff Morris, who is averaging 14.2 points/game and 7.9 rebounds/game, and is making 46% of his 3-PT attempts, in conference play.
Kansas' regular starting line-up also includes 6'3" senior G Tyrel Reed, who averages 10.5 points/game, and is hitting 46% from behind the 3-PT line during conference play, and 6'4" senior G Brady Morningstar, who is averaging 8.3 points/game, 4 assists/game, and is hitting 53% of his 3-PT attempts during conference play.
Completing Coach Self's starting line-up will most likely be 6'3" junior G Tyshawn Taylor, who averages 7.8 points/game and 3.8 assists/game, and is hitting 41% from behind the 3-PT line during conference play.
Kansas' bench is deep, and features a number of talented, and experienced players, including some former starters. Among those expected to come off of the bench for Coach Self are 6'2" freshman G Josh Selby, who averages 8.5 points/game and 2.3 assists/game in conference play, 6'9" sophomore F Thomas Robinson, who averages 6.9 points/game and 5.6 rebounds/game in conference play, 6'6" senior G Mario Little, who is hitting 39% from behind the 3-PT line in conference play, 6'4" sophomore G Elijah Johnson, who has made 39% of his 3-PT shots in conference games, 7'0" sophomore C Jeff Withey, and 6'5" sophomore G Travis Releford.
Releford and Little combined for 27 points off of the bench for the Jayhawks, in last month's meeting with Missouri.
For Coach Anderson's Tigers, much of the scoring during conference play has been provided by juniors Marcus Denmon (16.3 points/game) and Laurence Bowers (11 points/game, 5.9 rebounds/game). Junior Ricardo Ratliffe (10.5 points/game, 5.8 rebounds/game), sophomore Michael Dixon (9.7 points/game), and freshman Phil Pressey (7.4 points/game, 4.1 assists/game) have all made very positive contributions for Missouri during conference play.
Ratliffe is shooting over 61% from the field during conference play, and Dixon (43%), Denmon (42%), and Phil Pressey (43%) are Missouri's top 3-PT shooters during conference play. Those same three back court players lead the Tigers in steals, and have accounted for 56% of Missouri's steals during conference play. During conference play, Phil Pressey (1.8 A/T) and Denmon (1.7 A/T) lead Missouri in A/T ratio.
Missouri hasn't beaten the Jayhawks in over two years. To turn that around, the Tigers will need to play excellent defense, gang rebound, take care of the basketball, and make shots, from the field, and from the FT line. In other words, Missouri probably needs to play their best game of the year.
That's going to require that the Tigers play with more intelligence than they've thus far demonstrated. Missouri needs to get the ball inside to Ratliffe, and to Denmon on the perimeter. Missouri will need to turn up the defensive pressure, and do so without fouling the Jayhawks.
As a team, Kansas leads the nation in FG%, at 52% FG%, and in assists/game, with 18.3 assists/game. Their 83.1 points/game ranks 4th nationally. During conference play, the Jayhawks are making 41% of their 3-PT shots, have posted a 1.4 assist/turnover ratio, and are outrebounding opponents by nearly 6 rebounds/game.
Missouri ranks 6th nationally in scoring, at 82 points/game, 3rd in steals, at 9.6 steals/game, and 4th in turnover margin, at +5.2 per game.
The Tigers are undefeated at Mizzou Arena this season, with a 17-0 home record. Coach Anderson talked aboiut playing Kansas at home.
"It's another opportunity for our team to hold serve at home court," said Coach Anderson.
FGM: 892 899
FGA: 1901 1725
FG %: .469 .521
3pt FGM: 226 226
3pt FGA: 597 572
3FG %: .379 .395
FTM: 460 469
FTA: 619 696
FT % .727 .674
Points: 2460 2493
Per Game: 82.0 83.1
Reb./Gm 35.8 38.0
Steals 9.6 8.5
Assists: 16.8 18.3
Blocks: 5.2 4.5