5 QUESTIONS ABOUT MIZZOU AND SEC PLAY
The Missouri Tigers will took their 7-6 record into conference play against Georgia tonight in Athens which resulted in a loss, but rebounded with a win against Auburn at home.
Mizzou's play thus far has led us to some questions as to how the rest conference play may turn out.
SIZE – Can Mizzou get over their lack of height?
The tallest player on Missouri’s roster is Ryan Rosburg (6’10), and the effects have been displayed early on. In their first five matchups against power six teams, Mizzou failed to win a rebounding battle, often getting blown out on the glass by teams like Kansas State, Xavier, and Arizona.
So how can Mizzou prevent this in conference play?
“I don’t mind them pushing the ball, we have to,” said head coach Kim Anderson following a win against Missouri Western. “Our size dictates that we need to play a little bit faster than we did a year ago.”
The key is speed. The Tigers love to get out in transition. In their last two games, Missouri has forced 39 turnovers, winning the rebounding battle in the process. If Mizzou continues to force mistakes on defense, the less their rebounding weakness will affect them.
TURNOVERS – Will the Tigers be able to limit their mistakes?
With a young team like Mizzou has, turnovers are inevitable. The Tigers have found it incredibly tough to contain these mishaps, as Missouri ranks 103rd in the NCAA in fewest turnovers per game.
Texas A&M, South Carolina, and LSU all lie in the top 40 in turnovers forced per game, which will really pose a challenge for the Tigers. Those three teams account for five of Mizzou’s conference matchups.
STEP UP PLAYER – Who will Missouri turn to when they need a basket?
At the beginning of the season, Kim Anderson identified a problem in front of the media. He discussed the role of a “Step up player.” Missouri doesn’t have one player who stands out from the rest.
At the beginning of the year, it looked like Kevin Puryear could have been that guy. Not only does he lead the team in field goal percentage, but he also averages 11.8 points per game, better than any other Tiger.
However, Wes Clark has stepped up in the last three contests, showing late-game poise against Illinois. Clark also posted 22 points against Savannah State en route to a 31-point victory.
As of now, it looks like Wes Clark will have the ball in his hands when it matters most, but things could change like they have all season.
ROAD WOES – Can Mizzou grab a victory away from Columbia?
Missouri hasn’t won a road matchup since January 28th, 2014 against Arkansas. Since then, the Tigers have compiled a 0-18 record away from Mizzou Arena.
Mizzou’s only two road matchups in this season have been at Xavier and Arizona. Following Georgia, their next three road games come at South Carolina, Texas A&M, and Kentucky, who are all currently ranked. Don’t be surprised if the streak eclipses 20.
OUTCOME – Will Missouri finish better than last year?
Last season was a low-point in Missouri basketball history. Finishing 9-23, the Tigers posted their worst record since 1966-1967 (3-22). Barring a historically bad conference journey, the Tigers will finish ahead of last year’s nine win total.
It’s been an interesting season for Mizzou so far. The freshman class has taken over the team and impressed. But as out-of-conference play has moved on, Missouri’s struggles have been more evident. It will be interesting to see how the young Tigers adjust in SEC play this season.