Missouri vs Iowa State Basketball Preview

On Wednesday night (7:00 P.M., Big 12 Network) the #7/#8 Missouri Tigers (25-4, 12-4)  play host to the Iowa State Cyclones (21-8, 11-5) in Big 12 Conference action.

On Wednesday night (7:00 P.M., Big 12 Network) the #7/#8 Missouri Tigers (25-4, 12-4)  play host to the Iowa State Cyclones (21-8, 11-5) in Big 12 Conference action.

Missouri is coming off of a tough 87-86 OT loss at Kansas.  On Monday, Missouri Head Coach Frank Haith addressed the potential for an emotional hangover following Saturday's disappointing loss.

"You know, it was an emotional game,"  explained Coach Haith.  We're just disappointed that we didn't win the game.  We expected to win the game……………………………………. We put a lot into it, as we do all of our games.  So, losing the game was emotionally draining, and we all felt the effect of that.  But the sun does come up, and we've got to move on.  And, we've got a huge game on Wednesday."

Iowa State is coming in off of a 65-61 win at Kansas State.

Earlier this season, Missouri went to Ames (IA) and came away with a 76-69 win over Iowa State.  That was an interesting game in which Iowa State Head Coach Fred Hoiberg had assigned his defensive specialist, 6'5"  junior guard Chris Babb, to hound Missouri's Marcus Denmon.   With the help of his teammates, in what at times took on the appearance of a box-and-one, Babb was effective in denying Denmon the basketball, and Iowa State held Missouri's leading scorer to just 6 points on the game.  But the Tigers took advantage of all the attention that the Cyclones paid to Denmon, as each of Missouri's six other players scored in double figures.

On the other end, Missouri had their hands full with Iowa State's  6'8'  270-pound sophomore forward Royce White, who is averaging 12.5 points/game, 9.4 rebounds/game, and 6 assists/game in conference play.  White has great court vision, to go along with an impressive skill set for someone his size.

"Royce White is such a tough match-up,"  said Coach Haith.  "He's kind of a point forward for them.  But, they've got a lot of good players.   They're a tough match-up, because they can really shoot the basketball.  They can score.  And, Iowa State is hot!  They just won in Manhattan.  They're a really gifted and talented team.   They're really, really good!"

In conference play, three other Iowa State players are also averaging in double figures in scoring, including 6'3" senior guard Scott Christopherson, who's averaging 13.6 points/game, 3.4 rebounds/game, 2.4 assists/game in conference.  Christopherson is shooting a league-leading 55% from behind the arc in conference play.  He's been absolutely on fire of late, averaging 27 points/game over the Cyclone's last two games, while shooting a scintillating 77% from 3-PT range.

The Cyclone's other double-digit scorers are 6'3" senior guard Chris Allen, who is averaging 12.3 points/game, 2.3 rebounds/game, and 1.8 assists/game, while shooting 41% from 3-PT range in conference, and 6'6" sophomore forward Melvin Ejim, who is averaging 10.8 points/game, and 6.8 rebounds/game in conference play.  In Allen and Christopherson, Iowa State has two of the top three 3-PT FG percentage shooters in the conference.   In the last 8 games, Allen and Christopher are 49-of-91 (54%) from 3-PT range.

Iowa State Starters (21-8) - Based on the most recent game

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

F 03 Melvin Ejim 6-6 220 So. 9.1 6.6 1.1 1.0 Toronto, Ontario

F 30 Royce White 6-8 270 So. 12.8 9.2 5.1 1.2  Minneapolis, Minn.

G 02 Chris Babb 6-5 225 Jr. 8.2 4.2 1.7 1.1 Arlington, Texas

G 04 Chris Allen 6-3 205 Sr. 12.4 2.4 2.3 0.7 Lawrenceville, Ga.

G 11 Scott  Christopherson 6-3 195 Sr. 12.1 3.1 2.1 0.5 LaCrosse, Wis.

Coach Hoiberg's sixth man is 6'2" junior guard Tyrus McGee, who is averaging 7.6 points/game, and 3.6 rebounds/game, while shooting 38% from behind the arc, in conference play.

In conference play, Coach Hoiberg has relied on 6'9" junior forward Anthony Booker and 6'9" freshman center Percy Gibson off of the bench for some help up front.

"We're a better team than we were earlier in the season,"  said Coach Hoiberg.  "We've learned a lot about ourselves since that earlier game against Missouri."

Iowa State presents some very challenging match-ups for Missouri.   White is a difficult match-up for either of Missouri's big men, especially away from the basket, and Ejim is quicker, and superior athletically, to Kim English.   The dangerous Christopherson is difficult for anyone to guard, and you simply can't ever leave him alone.

In conference play, Iowa State ranks fourth in the Big 12 in field-goal percentage, at 45% FG%.  The Cyclones lead the conference from long-range, with a 3-PT field-goal percentage of 39% in conference.   On the other hand, Coach Hoiberg's squad is last in the conference from the free-throw line, where the Cyclone's have made just 65% of their free throws in conference games.  That last statistic is more than a bit misleading, since most of the Cyclones shoot free throws very well.  Christopherson has made 88% of his free throws in conference play.  But, Royce White is the Iowa State player who is most often at the line.  He's shot nearly a third of Iowa State's free throws in conference play, and he's made just 40% from the free throw line in conference.

"Iowa State is a really good team,"  said Missouri's Marcus Denmon.   "I think they're the most improved team in our league from last year.   We had a dog fight with them down in Ames, and I'm sure it will be another one here at Mizzou Arena.  We've got a lot of respect for their team.  They've got some good players.  But, we'll be ready."

If Phil Pressey had made the two free throws that he should have been awarded at the end of regulation on Saturday, when Thomas Robinson slammed into him while blocking his lay-up attempt, Missouri would still have five double-digit scorers in conference.

Missouri Starters (25-4) - Based on the most recent game

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

F 10 Ricardo Ratliffe 6-8 240 Sr. 13.8 7.4 0.7 0.6 Hampton Va.

G 12 Marcus Denmon 6-3 185 Sr. 18.2 5.1 2.2 1.5 Kansas City, Mo.

G 24 Kim English 6-6 200 Sr. 13.9 4.1 1.6 1.3 Baltimore, Md.

G 03 Matt Pressey 6-2 195 Sr. 6.3 3.1 1.7 0.9 Dallas, Texas

G 01 Phil Pressey 5-10 175 So. 9.8 3.4 6.2 2.1 Dallas, Texas

In conference games, Missouri's leads the Big 12 in several offensive categories including scoring (74.5 points/game), free throw percentage (.774), assists (15.56 assists/game), turnover margin (+2.25), and assist/turnover ratio (1.41 A/T).

One problem that Missouri faces in matching up against Iowa State is that the Tigers are last in the conference in 3-PT field-goal percentage defense, and that in conference games, the Cyclones are not only first in 3-PT field-goal percentage, but they are also first in 3-PT field-goal percentage defense.

Missouri will need to attack the rim against Iowa State, and win the game in the paint and at the free throw line.

Wednesday's game against Iowa State will be the final home game for Missouri seniors Marcus Denmon, Kim English, Steve Moore, and Jarrett Sutton, who have won 102 games over the last four years, the most wins in any four year period in school history.  Also playing their last home game at Missouri are fellow seniors Matt Pressey and Ricardo Ratliffe, both of whom are in their second season at Missouri.   Also being honored in pregame ceremonies are walk-ons Andrew Jones and Andy Rosburg.

Coach Haith expressed some concern over the impact that Senior Night might have on his team.  He said that he will try to prepare his players for the disruption in their usual pregame routine, but he noted that there's no way to prepare for the emotion that each individual player will experience.

"These seniors have won a lot of games,"  said Coach Haith.  "They've won more games than anybody in the history of the school!  These guys, they're winners!"

In taking a final look back at Saturday, Coach Haith talked about the character of his team.

"I'm proud of how this team plays, but I'm even more proud of how we act,"  said Coach Haith.  "We handled ourselves with tremendous class!  These guys have done that all year……………………………………… We handle winning with class, and we handle losing with class.  And, I'm proud to say that I'm a part of that!"

Comparative Statistics

Missouri   Iowa State

Record:  25-4  21-8

FGM:  803  717

FGA:  1616  1588

FG %:  .497  .452

3pt FGM: 234  258

3pt FGA:  610  674

3FG %:  .384  .383

FTM:  472  433

FTA:  613  642

FT %  .770  .674

Points:  2312  2125

Per Game: 79.7  73.3

Reb./Gm 32.4  36.4

Steals  8.5  5.9

Assists:  16.1  14.4

Blocks:  2.8  2.8

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