Tiger Hoops Report 1-11-09

Weekly update on the Tiger men's basketball team's progress


  Many encouraging firsts were witnessed by Missouri coach Mike Anderson as his Tigers pulled out a 72-66 victory against No. 11 Kansas State to open Big 12 play.

  For starters, he learned his team could rise up in a tight game and knock down clutch shots like the 3-pointer Zaire Taylor canned to snap a 66-66 tie.

  And then there was the key stop Missouri produced by forcing the conference's most productive 3-point shooter, Jacob Pullen, to launch an air ball from behind the arc with 19 seconds remaining.

  The Tigers even snatched a clutch rebound on the offensive end late with 13 seconds left when forward Laurence Bowers retrieved a missed free throw by guard J.T. Tiller. Bowers was fouled and converted two free throws for a four-point lead.

  "I think this team continues to evolve," Anderson said after the Tigers improved to 13-3 with their 30th consecutive win at home. "We found a way to win other than just taking the ball and going and scoring."

  Oh, Missouri is still proficient defensively. Although turnovers didn't contribute to as many immediate points (the Tigers were averaging 29 points off miscues coming in), they did force Kansas State into 21 turnovers and 42 percent shooting.

  The win was impressive, because it showed even more upside in the Tigers after a solid nonconference run. It also served as a statement that Missouri will not be quick to give up the considerable advantage it has built at home.


  --By forcing Kansas State into 21 turnovers, Missouri maintained a season-long streak. Each opponent has committed double-digit turnovers, including 13 that surrendered 20 or more turnovers. Missouri scored 20 points off turnovers, nine short of its season average, and allowed Kansas State to score 19 points off the 20 turnovers the Wildcats forced.

  --The bench continues to be a solid resource offensively for Missouri. It generated 30 points in the 72-66 victory against Kansas State, including 27 collectively from G Marcus Denmon and F Laurence Bowers. Missouri has had a double-digit scorer among its reserves in 13 of 16 games.

  ON THE SPOT: Missouri is going to be tough at home. With its win streak at Mizzou Arena threatened by a visit from No. 11 Kansas State in the Big 12 opener, the Tigers ended the Wildcats' 10-game winning streak with a 74-68 victory. The win was the 30th in a row at home, a streak that ranks second nationally behind arch-rival Kansas (51). The Tigers still must prove that their defensive intensity can force similar results on the road.

  QUOTE TO NOTE: "There's nothing like conference play and playing against K-State adds to it. They are a physical team and one of the better rebounding teams. It was a great win. It was a great chance for us to show that we can by physical as well." -- Missouri G Zaire Taylor.


  SEASON RECAP: Nothing thus far indicates Missouri cannot cause fits for any Big 12 rival, despite the loss of key forwards DeMarre Carroll and Leo Lyons off last season's Elite Eight team. The three losses the Tigers suffered in nonconference play were by a combined 14 points, plus a win against No. 11 Kansas State in the Big 12 opener boosted confidence as Missouri's oft-maligned frontcourt held its own with a 35-30 advantage on the boards.

  PLAYER ROTATION: Usual Starters -- F Keith Ramsey, F Justin Safford, G J.T. Tiller, G Kim English, G Zaire Taylor. Key Subs -- G Marcus Denmon, F Laurence Bowers, G Michael Dixon.


  Missouri 89, Georgia 61
  Missouri 74, Savannah State 45
  Missouri 72, Kansas State 66


  at Texas Tech, Wednesday, Jan. 13.
  at Oklahoma, Saturday, Jan. 16.
  vs. Nebraska, Saturday, Jan. 23.
  at Kansas, Monday, Jan. 25.
  vs. Oklahoma State, Saturday, Jan. 30.

  IN FOCUS: Missouri secured a nice win by knocking off No. 11 Kansas State in its Big 12 opener, but the Tigers must sustain the same intensity on the road. Both Texas Tech and Oklahoma look like vulnerable opponents after each suffered lopsided defeats in their conference openers. F Mike Singletary of Tech and G Willie Warren remain two of the most explosive offensive threats in the Big 12.


  --G Zaire Taylor shared team-high honors with 14 points against Kansas State, going 9-for-10 from the free throw line. He joined F Laurence Bowers as Tigers who shot 10 free throws as they went 27 of 43 from the stripe.

  --G Marcus Denmon matched Taylor with 14 points, including seven in the final five minutes.

  --G Michael Dixon entered Big 12 play as a productive reserve, averaging nine points in 19.3 minutes against nonconference opponent. The freshman was limited to two points over six minutes against Kansas State, however, after incurring foul trouble.

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