Perhaps shooting is contagious whether teams run hot or cold.
Missouri was definitely in a funk prior to its Jan. 30 home game against Oklahoma State. The Tigers were coming off their worst shooting effort of the season, managing to make just 27.9 percent of their attempts (including 30 first-half misses) in a lopsided loss at Kansas.
That performance dropped Missouri to 35.6 percent shooting in league play, the worst mark in the Big 12. Against the Cowboys, however, they canned 17 of 31 shots from 3-point range and raced to an easy 95-80 win.
"When we're getting good ball movement and getting good shots, the shots are going to fall," said guard Kim English. "At KU, or at Oklahoma (a Jan. 16 defeat), we just weren't taking good shots."
Another problem in those games is the Tigers (16-5, 4-2 Big 12) couldn't influence pace by kick-starting its transition game off steals. In fact, it was Kansas that ran at will in an 84-65 romp, generating a 20-point halftime lead with several fast-break baskets.
If Missouri's break is cut off, it's important the Tigers connect out of a half-court set. That was the case with the 3-pointers they knocked down against Oklahoma State.
Still, it's not the only weaponry coach Mike Anderson wants his offense to provide. To be at their best, the Tigers must also score in transition off steals. They managed that kind of production as well against OSU, scoring 38 points off 24 turnovers.
--One stat line in the Jan. 25 loss at Kansas was incredibly skewed in Missouri's favor. The Tigers committed just five turnovers, while forcing 23, yet lost 84-65. A 56-28 rebounding differential favoring Kansas was even more critical. Well that, plus the .279 percentage Missouri shot from the field.
--The loss at Kansas was the second game in a row in which the Tigers committed just five turnovers. They lead the Big 12 with a turnover margin of plus-7.9, which is twice as good as the next best mark of plus-3.5 (Nebraska).
ON THE SPOT: Contributions for Missouri typically run deep. That was true against Oklahoma State. Despite doing virtually anything it wanted offensively in a 95-80 win, MU seemed most pleased that seldom-used C Steve Moore snagged a key rebound with the Tigers leading by one point early in the second half. "Moore had a big-time impact on the game," said MU coach Mike Anderson. It could be a good sign. Against Big 12 opponents with tall lineups, the 6-9, 264-pound sophomore could be needed.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We finally brought one of those practices to the game (against Oklahoma State), pushing the tempo, pushing the ball, running on makes and misses. … We used to make a living off that last year. Hopefully, it's a sign that we're kind of rounding into shape." -- Missouri coach Mike Anderson.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
SEASON RECAP: Production along the front line is an ongoing problem for Missouri and forces some bad mismatches inside the Tigers simply cannot overcome against quality big men. F Laurence Bowers comes off the bench, yet he might be the most consistent inside force for Missouri offensively. The lack of production inside sometimes causes the Tigers to back down.
Missouri 70, Nebraska 53
Kansas 84, Missouri 65
Missouri 95, Oklahoma State 80
vs. Texas A&M, Wednesday, Feb. 3
at Colorado, Saturday, Feb. 6
vs. Iowa State, Wednesday, Feb. 10
at Baylor, Saturday, Feb. 13
vs. Texas, Wednesday, Feb. 17
IN FOCUS: Missouri must continue to capitalize on the homecourt advantage that's led to 32 straight victories in Mizzou Arena. Speeding up Texas A&M, which relies heavily on G Donald Sloan for its backcourt savvy, is critical. The game at Colorado is an opportunity for a road win, but the Buffs are no longer a pushover at home, sporting a 10-1 record in the Coors Events Center. The combination of G Cory Higgins and G Alec Burks is the most productive in the Big 12.
--F Laurence Bowers netted 16 points to lead three double-digit scorers off the bench for Missouri against Oklahoma State. G Marcus Denmon and G Michael Dixon each added 12 points.
--F Justin Safford scored a career-high 19 points while adding seven rebounds against Kansas. He followed with just seven points and four boards against Oklahoma State.
--G Kim English scored a team-high 20 points against Oklahoma State.