Missouri is coming home to a sellout crowd after suffering just their second loss of the season on Wednesday night, a 79-72 upset on the road at Oklahoma State.
For an historical perspective, this year's senior class is the winningest class in Missouri history. Since Marcus Denmon, Kim English, Steve Moore, and Lawrence Bowers arrived on campus in 2008, the Tigers are 95-28.
The Red Raiders are coming into Mizzou Arena looking for their first Big 12 win, after suffering a 69-47 home loss on Wednesday to Kansas State. In that game, Texas Tech Head Coach Billy Gillispie's team was led by 6'7" freshman forward Jordan Tolbert, with 18 points and 8 rebounds.
Tolbert leads the Red Raiders on the season, with 12.8 points/game and 6.4 rebounds/game. He is the only Texas Tech player averaging in double figures. Another freshman, 6'3" Toddrick Gotcher has been sidelined for nearly a month with an ankle injury. He's been missed.
The Red Raiders lone senior, 6'10" Robert Lewandowski, is scoring 7.2 points/game and grabbing 4.1 rebounds/game. Coach Gillispie has a pair of guards who shoot free throws very well, in 5'11" sophomore Javarez Willis (8.5 points/game, 87% FT%, 32% 3-PT FG%) and 6'1" junior Ty Nurse (8.2 points/game, 37% 3-PT FG%), whose 92% FT% leads the Big 12 Conference.
The Red Raiders regularly play almost a dozen players, but that number shrinks on the road. Among those who regularly see action for Coach Gillispie are 6'7" sophomore Jaye Crockett (7.4 points/game, 5.1 rebounds/game), 6'3" freshman DeShon Minnis, 6'6" freshman Terran Petteway, 5'8" freshman Kevin Wagner, 5'9" freshman Luke Adams, 6'8" freshman Clark Lammert, and 6'8" sophomore Jaron Nash.
As you can see, Texas Tech is a young team.
"When you have ten new guys, it takes a little time," said Coach Gillispie, talking about his team. "They've had their days………………………………… But, we've got a long ways to go."
"I think when you're in a rebuilding situation like we are, I think that you really have to look at and see the improvement with a fine tooth comb," explained Coach Gillispie. "Our transition defense is much improved………………………………. When you look at how much tougher we are, even though we're about a one on a scale of where I want to be, a ten, how much tougher we already are than where we were…………………………………………. I mean, we've just gotten so much tougher. But, we're not anywhere near where we need to be. We're not at the Big 12 level, yet………………………………………. It's a work in progress."
Texas Tech Starters (7-12) - Based on the most recent game
Pos. No. Name HT WT YR P/G R/G A/G S/G Hometown
F 15 Robert Lewandowski 6-10 256 Sr. 7.2 4.1 1.4 0.2 Overland Park, Kan.
F 32 Jordan Tolbert 6-7 210 Fr. 12.8 6.4 0.5 0.5 Fort Worth, Texas
G 03 DeShon Minnis 6-3 185 Fr. 3.1 2.6 1.6 0.7 Philadelphia, Pa.
G 05 Javarez Willis 5-11 171 So. 8.5 2.4 1.9 0.7 Homer, La.
G 10 Kevin Wagner 5-8 145 Fr. 2.5 0.6 1.3 0.4 Lubbock, Texas
The Red Raiders are averaging 62.5 points/game, but are giving up an average of 67.3 points/game to their opponents. Texas Tech has been out-rebounded just slightly on the season by their collective opponents. But in conference games, the Red Raiders are scoring just 53.3 points/game, and are being outscored by 17.7 points/game, and are being outrebounded by 2.9 boards/game.
During the non-conference season, Texas Tech shot the basketball fairly well, evidenced by their season averages of 45% from the field, and 36% from behind the arc. But in conference games, the Red Raiders are shooting just 36% from the field, which ranks last in the conference. And, their 0.66 assist/turnover ratio is also woefully last in the conference, and has proven to be problematic for the Red Raiders.
Of course, Missouri leads the Big 12 in assist/turnover ratio, as well as in turnover margin and in steals, two more categories where Texas Tech ranks last in the conference.
For Missouri, it all starts on the defensive end, and that's where the Tigers failed miserably on Wednesday. During conference games, Missouri is last in the Big 12 in field goal percentage defense and in 3-PT field goal percentage defense. In conference games, opponents have shot 47% from the field, and 44% from behind the arc against Missouri.
Although Missouri's shooting percentages are coming back to earth, except for Ricardo Ratliffe's NCAA record-pace 75% field goal percentage, the Tigers are still the most efficient offensive team in the country, scoring 1.2 points/possession this season.
One positive from Wednesday's loss at Oklahoma State is that Ratliffe took the most shots for Missouri in that game, and that Marcus Denmon took the second-most shots for the Tigers. I've been saying for a while that Ratliffe and Denmon need to be the ones taking the most shots for Missouri, although of late, Denmon hasn't been making nearly as high of a percentage as he was earlier in the season. Most Big 12 teams have targeted Denmon, and are keying their defense on him. Denmon's been getting to the FT line more often, and that's paid off, with his 91% FT%. At 17.7 points/game, Denmon is the third-leading scorer in the conference.
At 15.1 points/game and 7.1 rebounds/game, Ratliffe is giving the Tigers a much-needed inside presence.
Missouri Starters (18-2) - 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. 14.6 6.4 0.8 0.7 Hampton, Va.
G 12 Marcus Denmon 6-3 185 Sr. 17.7 5.4 2.6 1.5 Kansas City, Mo.
G 24 Kim English 6-6 200 Sr. 14.4 4.5 1.6 1.2 Baltimore, Md.
G 03 Matt Pressey 6-2 195 Sr. 8.2 3.9 2.0 1.0 Dallas, Texas
G 01 Phil Pressey 5-10 175 So. 10.1 3.4 6.0 2.3 Dallas, Texas
For the first time this season, Missouri's cumulative 3-PT field-goal percentage has fallen below 40%. In Big 12 games, the Tigers are being outshot from behind the 3-PT line (conference opponents – 44% 3-PT FG%, Missouri in conference – 35% 3-PT FG%).
Teams are covering Missouri's 3-PT shooters, Denmon and English. As a result, Matt Pressey has gotten a lot of good looks, and he's raised his 3-PT field goal percentage. In conference games, Matt Pressey is making 53% of his 3-PT attempts.
While there is certainly room for improvement with Missouri on the offensive end, it's really the defensive end where the Tigers need the most improvement.
It really comes down to toughness. Coach Haith has talked about the need for his team to be tougher. In the past couple of weeks, several of Missouri's players have talked about toughness. But, talking about toughness doesn't make you tough.
Missouri Texas Tech
Record: 18-2 7-12
FGM: 573 405
FGA: 1139 907
FG %: .503 .447
3pt FGM: 158 85
3pt FGA: 411 236
3FG %: .384 .360
FTM: 353 292
FTA: 455 413
FT % .776 .707
Points: 1657 1187
Per Game: 82.8 62.5
Reb./Gm 34.1 31.8
Steals 9.3 5.4
Assists: 16.2 11.5
Blocks: 3.1 3.4