Missouri Basketball Preview vs Oklahoma

On Monday night (6:00 P.M., ESPNU), the #4 Missouri Tigers (21-2, 8-2) go on the road to take on the Oklahoma Sooners (13-9, 3-7) in Big 12 action.

On Monday night (6:00 P.M., ESPNU), the #4 Missouri Tigers (21-2, 8-2) go on the road to take on the Oklahoma Sooners (13-9, 3-7) in Big 12 action.

Marcus Denmon scored 9 consecutive points to fuel an 11-0 Missouri run to close out the Tigers 74-71 win over Kansas on Saturday night, a win that vaulted the Tigers into a three-way tie for first place in the conference standings.  Moments later, Denmon put things in perspective.

"I'm proud of my guys,"  said Denmon.  "But this ain't it for us.  We've got to get ready for Monday."

Denmon was already aware of the quick turnaround that he and his teammates must make, barely enough time to physically recuperate, if they are to avoid a letdown and a loss that would put the Tigers behind in the conference race.

Oklahoma lost at home, 70-77 to Iowa State earlier on Saturday evening, so the Sooners have a serious advantage from the standpoint of the quick turnaround heading into Monday evening's contest.

Earlier this season, the Tigers handled the Sooners 87-49 in Columbia, as Missouri shot nearly 60% from the field.

Coach Lon Kruger features the same starting line-up that we saw at Mizzou Arena in early January, including 6'4" junior guard Steven Pledger, whose 16.3 points/game is fourth in the Big 12.   Pledger is pulling down 4 rebounds/game, and is shooting 48% from the field, including 45% from behind the 3-PT arc, and he is making 90% of his FTs.  Almost half of his field goal attempts have come from behind the 3-PT line.

Pledger is joined by a pair of 6'8" junior forwards who are averaging in double figures for the Sooners, including Andrew Fitzgerald and Romero Osby.  Fitzgerald is scoring 13.5 points/game, and grabbing 5 rebounds/game.  He's made 49% of his shot attempts.  Osby is scoring 14.5 points/game, and is Oklahoma's leading rebounder, at 7.8 boards/game.  He is also shooting 49% from the field.

A 6'6" sophomore guard, Cameron Clark, and 6'1" junior guard Sam Grooms complete the starting line-up for Oklahoma.  Grooms averages 5.7 assists/game, and has a 3.0 assist/turnover ratio.

Oklahoma Starters (13-9) - Based on the most recent game

Pos. No. Name HT WT YR P/G R/G A/G S/G Hometown

F 04 Andrew Fitzgerald 6-8 247 Jr. 13.5 5.0 0.5 0.2 Baltimore, Md.

F 24 Romero Osby 6-8 232 Jr. 12.5 7.8 0.8 0.7 Meridan, Miss.

G 01 Sam Grooms 6-1 203 Jr. 6.0 3.0 5.7 1.0 Greensboro, N.C.

G 02 Steven Pledger 6-4 222 Jr. 17.6 4.0 1.6 1.0 Chesapeake, Va.

G 21 Cameron Clark 6-6 198 So. 8.0 4.0 1.3 0.7 Sherman, Texas

Regular bench players for Coach Kruger include 6'2" junior guard Carl Blair, 6'7" senior forward C.J. Washington, and 6'7" sophomore forward Tyler Neal, who is averaging fewer than 10 minutes/game in conference play.  The Sooners haven't been getting a lot of production from their bench.

Grooms and Osby have gotten a lot better since the start of conference play, and Pledger scored 30 points in a recent 63-60 road win at Kansas State.  Coach Kruger has shortened his bench, and his team has begun to establish their identity.

During conference play, Pledger has been Oklahoma's only real 3-PT threat.  Blair takes a couple of 3-PT shots per game, but he's making just 18% from behind the arc in conference.  Fitzgerald and Osby do most of the rest of the Sooners' scoring, and they are inside players.  

Missouri leads the Big 12 in 8 different statistical categories, including scoring offense (80.9 points/game), scoring margin (+16.8), free throw percentage (77% FT%), field goal percentage (50%), assists (15.8 assists/game), steals (9.1 steals/game), turnover margin (+5.2), and assist-turnover ratio (1.5 A/T).

Denmon is the Tigers' leading scorer, at 17.7 points/game, which is third in the conference.  The All-American candidate is a super stat-sheet stuffer, averaging 5.5 rebounds/game, 2.3 assists/game, 1.5 steals/game, and with a 2.1 assist/turnover ratio.

The Tigers need a bounce-back game from Phil Pressey, who leads the league in steals (2.4 steals/game), and is tied for the league-lead in assists (5.9 assists/game).

Kim English is leading the conference in 3-PT FG% (48% 3-PT FG%).

Ricardo Ratliffe leads the nation in field goal percentage (75% FG%).

Missouri Starters (21-2) - 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. 14.3 6.6 0.7 0.8 Hampton, Va.

G 12 Marcus Denmon 6-3 185 Sr. 17.7 5.5 2.3 1.5 Kansas City, Mo.

G 24 Kim English 6-6 200 Sr. 14.3 4.3 1.5 1.2 Baltimore, Md.

G 03 Matt  Pressey 6-2 195 Sr. 7.5 3.6 1.8 1.0 Dallas, Texas

G 01 Phil Pressey 5-10 175 So. 9.5 3.4 5.9 2.3 Dallas, Texas

The Tigers are getting a lot of help from their bench, with starter-quality minutes from both Mike Dixon and Steve Moore.

Missouri has made more free throws (162) during conference play than their opponents have taken (149).

Oklahoma will be trying to lay an ambush for Missouri.  The Tigers need to bring maximum defensive intensity from the opening tip.

Comparative Statistics

Missouri  Oklahoma

Record: 21-2 13-9

FGM: 644 578

FGA:  1291  1322

FG %:  .499  .437

3pt FGM: 179  111

3pt FGA:  468  298

3FG %:  .382  .372

FTM:  394  314

FTA:  509  421

FT %  .774  .746

Points:  1861  1581

Per Game: 80.9  71.9

Reb./Gm 33.1  37.8

Steals  9.1  6.8

Assists:  15.8  14.1

Blocks:  3.1  3.4

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