In Saturday's loss, Texas committed 20 turnovers against ball pressure that wouldn't be defined as suffocating. Against Missouri (18-4, 5-2) Wednesday night at 8:30, the Longhorns will face a different type of challenge than they have faced to date.
The Tigers, coached by Mike Anderson, will dish out 40 minutes of ball pressure. Texas will have to be aware of where the traps and chasing defenders are at all times. The Tigers average 11 steals per game as well as several more deflections.
Missouri, coming off of an 89-72 win over Baylor in Columbia January 31, features one of the top forward combos in college basketball. Seniors DeMarre Carroll and Leo Lyons combine to average 31.6 points and 13 rebounds per game.
For Texas, Damion James will enter Wednesday night's game at less than 100% with a sore knee suffered against Kansas State. James, who is averaging 15.7 points and 8.6 rebounds, is listed as probable by Texas.
The lone bright spot in the loss to Kansas State was the impressive game put together by Justin Mason on the offensive end. Mason got back to the attacking player that Longhorn fans have seen in glimpses throughout the season. Mason scored 12 points, grabbed four rebounds and dished out nine assists in the loss.
Texas leads the all-time series 11-8, including 9-2 in the Rick Barnes era.
Missouri won last season's meeting January 12 in Columbia 97-84.
A Look at the Numbers
Texas shoots 43.5% overall, 31.3% from the three point line and 65.4% from the foul line.
Missouri converts 48.3% from the floor, 36.7% from three and 66.6% from the free throw line.
Texas holds a +5.1 rebound margin and turns the ball over 12.3 times per game, while the Tigers check in at +2.5 on the boards and 13.0 turnovers per game.
The Longhorn Starters
G Justin Mason 6-2 Jr. (7.2 points, 4.0 rebounds and 4.8 assists)
G A.J. Abrams 5-10 Sr. (16.9 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.7 assists)
F Damion James 6-7 Jr. (15.7 points, 8.6 rebounds and 1.3 steals)
F Gary Johnson 6-6 So. (11.5 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.0 blocks
F Connor Atchley 6-11 Sr. (5.6 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.7 blocks)
Key reserves include 6-2 freshman Varez Ward (3.5 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.8 assists), 6-1 sophomore Dogus Balbay (1.9 points, 1.7 rebounds and 2.2 assists), 6-10 junior Dexter Pittman (8.3 points and 4.4 rebounds) and 6-10 sophomore Clint Chapman (1.6 rebounds).
The Tiger Starters
G T.J. Tiller 6-3 Jr. (7.6 points, 3.2 rebounds and 3.3 assists)
G Zaire Taylor 6-4 Jr. (5.3 points, 3.1 rebounds and 3.4 assists)
F Kim English 6-6 Fr. (7.0 points, 1.6 rebounds and 1.3 assists)
F Leo Lyons 6-9 Sr. (14.8 points, 5.9 rebounds and 2.0 assists)
F DeMarre Carroll 6-8 Sr. (16.8 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.8 steals)
What to Watch For
The Longhorns will face 40 minutes of pressure defense Wednesday night. On Saturday, Texas committed 20 turnovers with the majority being unforced. If the Longhorns are to be in a position to win Wednesday, they simply have to value possessions.
Texas will face the top forward combo they have and will this season against Missouri. The duo averages over 10 free throw attempts per game and is coming off of a combined 55 point and 15 rebound performance in the win over Baylor. The Longhorns have to play great defense before the catch in the post and not allow either talented forward to cross their face and post without hesitation and an attempt to push out and/or dislodge.
If Carroll wants to step out to 18-20 feet and fire jump shots, that should be welcomed by Texas.
Texas has to know where Matt Lawrence is when he checks into the game. The senior is one of the best catch and shoot three-point specialists in the conference and is knocking down 42.4% on the season. If Lawrence catches and steps into a three in transition, he is a dead eye.
T.J. Tiller has developed into a very good all-around player for the Tigers. His weakness is three-point shooting hitting just 27.3% on the season. Should he catch on the perimeter, Texas defenders must close out under control and put a hand up. Running out of control at Tiller will give him the opportunity to put the ball on the floor and put the Texas defense in scramble situations.
The Texas guards have to be cognizant of the back tip and jump traps by Missouri. Balbay has a bad habit of dribbling the ball loose and away from his body. Those balls will be back tipped against Missouri. Ward has a bad habit of not getting his inside shoulder low and dribbles the ball too high. Against Missouri, that type of loose ball handling will be back tipped from behind or deflected.
The Texas big men have to be aware of where the double and active hands are coming from on the catch. Gary Johnson simply can't stick the ball out in front of him and expect a foul call as he did Saturday. Johnson has to stay away from putting the ball on the floor in tight spaces. Patience and using his jab step to create space for a mid-range jumper will be keys for Johnson. At the same time, he needs to attack Carroll or Lyons off the dribble to attempt to get one or both in foul trouble.
If Carroll catches the ball deep, Texas needs to foul hard and make him earn points at the foul line. Carroll shoots 66.1% from the foul line.