Strength: Forcing Turnovers
Missouri's press has always been a difficult one to break, and the Tigers are using that pressure to rank seventh nationally in forced turnover percentage. The Tigers forcing teams to commit turnovers on more than one-fourth of their possessions while also earning a top-15 mark in steals and a top-30 ranking in blocks. Missouri is also a top-20 team in adjusted offensive efficiency, while ranking in the top 25 in effective field goal percentage.
Weakness: Getting Stops After the Press
John Gasaway did a fantastic job on the Tigers for ESPN in describing why the human polls like Missouri while the computers … well, don't. The gist: in five games against quality competition (written before the Illinois game), Missouri is allowing teams to light up the field, shooting 53 percent from two and 40 percent from three-point range. When Missouri didn't force a turnover, those teams — Georgetown, Oregon, Vanderbilt, La Salle and Wyoming (not quite a Murderer's Row) — scored an average of 1.39 points per possession. To put that in perspective, the average major conference team scores 1.28 points per effective (read: without turnover) possession in league play.
Star Player: Marcus Denmon, G
Denmon has been amazingly efficient this year, hitting 51.8 percent of his shots, including 50.6 percent from behind the three-point line. So it comes as no surprise that he's Missouri's scoring leader with 17.6 points per game … except when you consider that he is only using 19.8 percent of Missouri's possessions, ranking seventh on the team in that category. But he has also been wonderfully well-rounded, ranking second on the Tigers in steals with two per game and boasting a better than 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio.