On Saturday afternoon (12:30 P.M., Big 12 Network), the #7/6 Missouri Tigers (14-0, 1-0) travel to Manhattan to take on the #22/23 Kansas State Wildcats (11-2, 0-1) in what portends to be something of an early conference showdown.
Kansas State comes into this contest off of a 49-67 road loss at Kansas.
Coach Frank Martin will have his squad ready for a physical battle inside Bramlage Coliseum. Missouri hasn't won a game in Manhattan since 2004. This is the 234th meeting in this series, which dates back to 1907. Missouri holds a 117-116 edge in the all-time series.
The Wildcats have tremendous size, depth, and athleticism. They are a very physical team, and they will make this game as ugly as possible in an attempt to gain every physical advantage. Kansas State's leading scorer is 6'4" junior guard Rodney McGruder, who is averaging 12.7 points/game and 5.2 rebounds/game. He's followed by 6'7" senior forward Jamar Samuels, who is averaging 11.8 points/game and 7 rebounds/game.
The third double-digit scorer for K-State is 6'2" sophomore guard Will Spradling, who is averaging11.3 points/game, and 2.8 assists/game. Spradling is making 44% of his 3-PT field goal attempts. McGruder is second to Spradling in 3-PT FGAs, although he's made just 30% of his 3-PT attempts.
Kansas State Wildcats (11-2) - Based on the most recent game
Pos. No. Name HT WT YR P/G R/G A/G S/G Hometown
F 42 Thomas Gipson 6-7 275 Fr. 9.6 6.8 1.2 0.2 Cedar Hills, Texas
F 32 Jamar Samuels 6-7 230 Sr. 11.8 7.0 1.2 0.9 Washington, D.C.
G 22 Rodney McGruder 6-4 205 Jr. 12.7 5.2 1.2 1.4 Washington, D.C.
G 03 Martavious Irving 6-1 210 Jr. 6.3 1.8 1.7 1.4 Ft Lauderdale, Fla.
G 55 Will Spradling 6-2 180 So. 11.3 2.3 2.8 1.0 Overland Park, Kan
Coach Martin's bench is deep, including 6'11" junior forward Jordan Henriquez, who has really come on of late. Henriquez and Gipson provide K-State with a formidable one-two punch on the inside. Gipson is a beast, and Henriquez, who averages 2.5 blocked shots/game, is as long as anyone Missouri will face this year.
K-State ranks 6th in the Big 12 in scoring (75 points/game), and 5th in points allowed (62.1 points/game). The Wildcats are 2nd in the conference in rebounding (40.5 rebounds/game), and in 3-PT FG % defense, holding opponents to 28% from behind the 3-PT line. Coach Frank Martin's club really gets after it on the defensive end, and they like to extend their defense to the perimeter, and get in the passing lanes. They like to play defense with their hands.
On offense, they are an attacking team, as well. As a result of their sustained efforts to get the ball inside, Kansas State leads the Big 12 in FT attempts at nearly 28 FTA/game, although the Wildcats are just 9th in the conference in FT% (64% FT%).
Besides Spradling and McGruder, there are a handful of Wildcats who will shoot the three, including 5'11" freshman PG Angel Rodriguez, who is third on the Wildcats in 3-PT attempts, and has made 32% of his 3-PT attempts. Irving has taken a number of 3-PT FGAs, but he makes just 26% from behind the arc. Samuels shoots the three, but makes just 28% from beyond the arc. A couple of guards who come off of Coach Martin's bench are 6'6" sophomore Shane Southwell, who is shooting 40% from 3-PT land, and 6'2" junior Jeremy Jones, who is hitting 43% of his 3-PT attempts.
Coach Martin plays a lot of people. Eleven players are averaging at least 5 minutes/game for the Wildcats, including 6'5" freshman forward Nino Williams and 6'10" freshman forward Adrian Diaz. But only eight players are averaging more than 10 minutes/game, which is a more manageable number. Coach Martin demands tough, physical defense of his players, and at times, the frequency with which he substitutes players on and off of the floor impedes the flow of the Wildcats' offense.
K-State turns their opponents over at almost 17 turnovers /game. But the Wildcats aren't an especially good ball-handling team. As a team, they barely have more assists than turnovers (1.02 A/T ratio). Spradling (1.8 A/T), Irving (1.8 A/T), Rodriquez (1.2 A/T), and Southwell (1.9 A/T) are the Wildcats' more reliable ball-handlers.
For Missouri, this will be the Tigers' toughest test of the young season. Missouri opened conference play at home, and defeated Oklahoma by a final score of 87-49, in a game that wasn't even that close.
The undersized and undermanned Tigers lead the country in scoring margin (+25.3 points/game), field goal percentage (52% FG%), and assist/turnover ratio (1.72 A/T ratio). In addition, the Tigers lead the Big 12 in 6 more statistical categories, including scoring offense (86.2 points/game), FT percentage (.77%), 3-PT ?eld goal percentage (.42%), assists (16.9), steals (9.6), and turnover margin (+6.2)
"They've got tremendous experience at Missouri," said Coach Martin. "They've got upper-classmen guards, and they've got upper-classmen front line guys. They've got guys that have played high major minutes and high major games during the course of their careers………………………………… They play amazing basketball. They're a hard match-up, because of their ability to face up and shoot, drive, and pass from four spots on the floor at all times."
Senior guard and All-American candidate, Marcus Denmon, leads Missouri in scoring, with 18.8 points/game. He's also grabbing 4.9 rebounds/game, and has 2.3 assists/game, and 1.6 steals/game. He's shooting 51% from the field, including 46% from behind the 3-PT line, and is making 91% of his FTs. Denmon brings a 3.2 assist/turnover ratio into Manhattan.
Senior forward Kim English is leading the nation, with his 55% 3-PT FG%. He's scoring 15.9 points/game, and grabbing 4.8 rebounds/game.
Senior forward Ricardo Ratliffe leads the nation in field goal percentage, with his 77% FG%. Ratliffe is scoring 14.1 points/game, and leads Missouri, with 7.3 rebounds/game. Ratliffe will a dual challenge on Saturday, with Gipson's power, and Henriquez' length.
Missouri's starting point guard is sophomore Phil Pressey. He's averaging 9.4 points/game, and he leads the Big 12 Conference with 6.1 assists/game, 2.1 steals/game, and a 2.94 assist/turnover ratio. Phil is currently on a streak of 9 consecutive games with at least five assists, which is a Missouri record, previously established by Anthony Peeler (7 consecutive games) in 1989-1990.
Matt Pressey is averaging 8.1 points/game and 4.5 rebounds/game. He's also averaging 1.9 assists/game, and has a 2.3 assist/turnover ratio. In addition to his solid defensive play, and the great job that he's doing on the boards, Matt's also dramatically improved his shot selection. He's now shooting 45% from the field, and 35% from behind the 3-PT line.
Missouri Starters (14-0) - Based on the most recent game
Pos. No. Name HT WT YR P/G R/G A/G S/G Hometown
F 10 Ricardo Ratli?e 6-8 240 Sr. 14.1 7.3 0.6 0.7 Hampton, Va.
G 12 Marcus Denmon 6-3 185 Sr. 18.8 4.9 2.3 1.6 Kansas City, Mo.
G 24 Kim English 6-6 200 Sr. 15.9 4.8 1.7 1.2 Baltimore, Md.
G 03 Matt Pressey 6-2 195 Sr. 8.1 4.5 1.9 1.0 Dallas, Texas
G 01 Phil Pressey 5-10 175 So. 9.4 3.0 6.1 2.1 Dallas, Texas
Mike Dixon is scoring 12.6 points/game off of the bench for Missouri, which gives the Tigers four double-digit scorers. The junior guard is also averaging 3.1 assists/game, and 1.9 steals/game. Dixon (92%) and Denmon (91%) are one-two in the conference in FT shooting. Dixon is 2nd in the conference in steals, behind Phil Pressey.
The four-guard rotation of Denmon, Dixon, and the Pressey brothers have a collective 2.6 assist/turnover ratio.
Completing Missouri's 7-man rotation is senior Steve Moore, who leads the Tigers in blocked shots (1.5 blocks/game), and is shooting 63% from the field.
Missouri Kansas State
Record: 14-0 11-2
FGM: 422 333
FGA: 809 750
FG %: .522 .444
3pt FGM: 120 76
3pt FGA: 288 224
3FG %: .417 .339
FTM: 243 233
FTA: 317 362
FT % .767 .644
Points: 1207 975
Per Game: 86.2 75.0
Reb./Gm 35.1 40.5
Steals 9.6 6.4
Assists: 16.9 14.8
Blocks: 3.4 5.3