Missouri Preview

Texas lost its first contest with Missouri. Can the Longhorns steal the second one?

Missouri moves the ball well offensively, which has the planned side effect that the Tigers are awfully efficient on that end. In fact, the Tigers' Adjusted Offensive Efficiency, according to stat guru Ken Pomeroy, is second in the nation.

It's almost hard to believe they aren't in first. The Tigers have a devastating outside-in game, one that has allowed their only big man, Ricardo Ratliffe (who isn't really even that big) to put up what could be a record field goal percentage of 75.1 percent. And it's not like he's a one-shot-per-game type of guy, in that he's averaging nearly 15 points per game (along with seven rebounds).

But this is a chicken-and-the-egg argument with a definite first: Ratliffe is so effective because the Tigers are so deadly at their other spots. Marcus Denmon has come down a bit since Big 12 play. but he's still averaging almost 18 points per game. Kim English is shooting 50 percent from three-point range and is scoring 14.4 points per contest. And point guard Phil Pressey is the engine that makes it all go, basically averaging a 10-point, six-assist performance per night.

English is the intriguing presence there, as the 6-foot-5 swingman is forced to play the four, leading to a four-out, one-in approach with Pressey orchestrating, Ratliffe setting picks, and the others alternating between terrific angled cuts to the basket and finding openings along the outside. Spacing is big.

The Longhorns were blasted early in Columbia after electing to decide on zone for a time, largely because the Tigers are built to devastate zone defenses. But once Texas bunkered down into its typical man, the game was played on much more even footing.

Missouri is a difficult matchup for Texas in that the Tigers score so well. But if the Texas defense can limit Missouri's opportunities, the Longhorns could have a chance to steal one at the Erwin Center Monday Night.

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