MU Daily Links 1/25/12: No. 2 Tigers take show on the road to Okie State, DGB recruiting update, more…

STILLWATER, OK – In what SHOULD be a relatively easy week, Missouri heads to Stillwater and Gallagher-Iba Arena with its highest ranking in 10 years.

But, the Tigers will look to avoid an upset. Last year, the Tigers (18-1, 5-1) lost 76-70 in Stillwater as the No. 14 team. But both these teams are different.

We have went over it several times, as the Tigers have much of the same roster, but a different coach.

“The rankings are great, but that happened because we played a certain way,” coach Frank Haith said. “We can’t lose that intensity and focus that we’ve had this season.”

Oklahoma State, who finished 20-14 last season, is only 9-10 (2-4 Big 12) and one of the worst team’s in the conference this season, having lost eight of their last 11 games, and three in a row. They have also lost all eight games against Top 50 teams. But, the Pokes are 7-2 at home as Gallagher-Iba has always been a tough place to play.

“It’s a dangerous game. You’re going to get their best effort because you have the bull’s-eye on your chest. They’re a well-coached team and Page is outstanding. We have to be ready to play,” Haith said.

Missouri is the highest-scoring team in the Big 12 (83.4), and the nation’s secone best shooting team (50.9%).

The Tigers, winners of five of past seven matchups, lead the series 75-40 but are 21-28 in Stillwater heading into their final visit as a Big 12 team.

This game is the first of two in a row against sub-.500 opponents with last-place Texas Tech visiting Mizzou Arena on Saturday, the first of four out of five games at home.

And, I REALLY look forward to the awful camera angle.

Prediction: I find it hard to imagine Missouri losing this one. They have the advantage in every area, but they traditionally struggle in this building. Oklahoma State has some talent in senior point guard gunner Keiton Page and forward Le’Bryan Nash, one of the top freshmen in the nation. But, Swing man Jean-Paul Olukemi’s injury a few weeks ago has really limited this team offensively. They weren’t very good before, but they are nearly bereft of options now. The Pokes also won’t go 1-16 from 3-point range and Page won’t go 4-17 from the field like they did in a 66-58 home loss to Kansas State on Saturday. The scary thing is since it is another home game, the Pokes – and Page – are likely to get hot as teams don’t shoot poorly at home two games in a row, very often. That said, Missouri went into Baylor unfazed, so playing in Oklahoma State shouldn’t be anything special. Even if Oklahoma State gets hot, Missouri’s balanced attack should be plenty enough go send the Tigers to victory, barring foul trouble…and Ricardo Ratliffe should be licking his chops to go against a team that is just as small as Missouri. Missouri 83, Oklahoma State 69.

MIZZ
OKST
W-L 18-1 9-10
Avg Points 83.4 65.9
Avg Points Allowed 63.6 65.8
Home Record 11-0 7-2
Road Record 3-1 1-3
Current Streak W4 L3

Team Stat Leaders

MIZZ OKST
Points M. Denmon 17.6 K. Page 14.9
Rebounds R. Ratliffe 6.8 P. Jurick 5.7
Assists P. Pressey 6.0 M. Brown 1.9
Steals P. Pressey 2.3 M. Brown 1.4
Blocks S. Moore 1.3 P. Jurick 2.1
Team Stats: Missouri | Oklahoma State

MUtigers.com: Second-Ranked Tigers Face Road Test In Stillwater
The Trib (Steve Walentik): What to watch for: Oklahoma State
Post-Dispatch: Mizzou impresses former Tiger who coaches OSU

The Missourian: Ratliffe key to Missouri’s unique offense

Other Basketball

MUtigers.com: Ricardo Ratliffe Earns Lute Olson National Player of the Week

In all my years as a sportswriter, I can’t remember interviewing an athlete as articulate and insightful as Missouri’s Kim English. Check out the video interview I did with the Missouri star following the Tigers’ victory over Baylor in Waco on Saturday.

— ESPN’s Jason King in his column today on ESPN.com

MUtigers.com: Ratliffe Named Big 12 Player of the Week
The Trib: Ratliffe named Big 12 player of the week

ESPN.com: Ratliffe efficient for Mizzou

Dallas Morning News:Phil Pressey making a big impact with a small frame

The Trib (Steve Walentik): Haith talks Ratliffe, Pressey and handling exposure

He’s matured tremendously. I think he’s been a guy that has really watched a lot of tape, and he’s grown so much, and we stress this with our guys, because we have good ball skills and basically two point guards — him and Mike Dixon — with four minutes left in the game, if we’re in play, we should have a good chance to be right where we need to be at the end of the game because those guys have got great ball skills and decision-making and being able to execute offense and make free throws, which you have to do down the stretch. He’s developing and gotten better in all those areas, and I know he was a freshman last year. So he’s a year older, and he’s gotten a lot better with his poise, with his understanding of what we want to do offensively and has just been an outstanding … I mean, I think Phil’s got to be considered on of the top point guards — and I know by this time next year will be — in the country.”

The Trib: Tigers’ rise to No. 2 built on toughness
KC Star: Staying tough vital to Tigers
PowerMizzou: Quieting the Critics

Mizzou’s No. 2 ranking – its highest this late in the season since the Tigers were No.1 in the 13th week of the 1989-90 season.

The Missourian: PHOTO GALLERY: Missouri rises to No. 2 in AP polls
KC Star: Missouri Tigers see their stock rise to No. 2
Post-Dispatch: MU confronts unusual foe: success

KC Star (Campus Corner): Mizzou better without Bowers?

Former UMKC coach Rick Zvosec said of Missouri’s loss for the season of Laurence Bowers to a knee injury: “It’s a weird dichotomy. It’s addition by subtraction.”

“Losing Laurence Bowers I think may have been the best thing for Frank Haith and this team.

“They certainly wouldn’t be as good an offensive team with Bowers in there as opposed to the extra guard.”

Post-Dispatch (Bryan Burwell): No need to qualify praise, MU is that good

We have seen snippets of [toughness] all season from Mizzou, but last Saturday was the first game in which I saw it all game long. I have been covering sports a long time, and I’ve seen this sort of effort on occasion. I saw it late last summer and into the fall with the Cardinals. It’s that elusive quality that all championship teams possess.

It’s one of the reasons they execute their offense so well and make you forget that their lack of size is supposed to be some sort of handicap. Haith knew all along that his team was not going to suddenly hit a miracle growth spurt during the season, so he has continued to emphasize all along that the strength of this team will be full effort and executing their offense to near perfection.

“It’s like a great marriage,” Haith says. “You can’t have one without the other. I don’t know if Ricardo (Ratliffe) would have this great play if we didn’t have good guards, and I don’t know if our guards would be as good as they are if we didn’t have a low-post presence.”

Faith in Haith

Post-Dispatch: There’s a faith in Haith that wasn’t there with Anderson
The Missourian: Under Haith, Missouri focuses on preparation
Daily Oklahoman: OSU Basketball: New Missouri coach Frank Haith surprised at team’s high level of play
KBIA Sports Extra: No. 2 Mizzou sold on Haith

***

The Dorial Green-Beckam decision is a week away, and barring surprises, it’s a two horse race between Arkansas and Missouri. DGB’s final decision will weigh heavily on what his family wants, and they like Missouri.

Did the Pinkelcopter seal the deal?

The "Pinkelcopter" flew into Springfield for a meeting with DGB last week.

KSDK.com: Dorial Green-Beckham sits down with Frank Cusumano
Post-Dispatch: Top recruit turns from hoops to Arkansas football visit
Post-Dispatch (Bryan Burwell): Mizzou fans greet prized recruit

PowerMizzou: Five Days: The Race to Land #1

Other Recruiting

PowerMizzou: Missouri moves ahead for Onuoha
PowerMizzou: Update on Damien Lawry
We Are Mizzou: Wide Receiver Darius White Joins the Mizzou Family

Mr. SEC: Recruiting Rankings Do Matter … If You Know How To Look At Them

ESPN Big 12 Blog: Big 12 recruiting needs in 2012

PowerMizzou: Decision date, final three set for Meador

SB Nation: Missouri Not In Kansas Anymore
TampaBay.com: Conference realignment changes landscape of the recruiting game

[Sean] Culkin said he first heard from the Tigers after their move to the SEC became official in the fall. Coaches told him they began searching for players in their new region.

“My name came up, and they wanted to make a visit,” Culkin said. “They saw me and immediately offered there.”

Tampa Bay is already becoming an important part of Missouri’s recruiting with a handful of area players receiving offers, said DeArmond, publisher of PowerMizzou.com. Nick Otterbacher, the school’s director of football recruiting, is a Tampa native. Instead of thriving on Texas recruits that the Longhorns passed up, the Tigers will begin feasting on Tampa prospects the Gators don’t want.

“There’s no delusion they’re going to get a kid from Tampa that has a Florida offer,” DeArmond said.

But BCS-quality players like Culkin that the Gators don’t offer are Tiger bait.

Kegs ‘n Eggs: Welcome to the SEC: Missouri’s Spectacular Conference Orientation

One SEC official pulls out a cowbell and begins hitting it which causes every Missouri official to jump out of their seat.]

“We don’t expect you to become complete acclimated to this change for at least a year.”

[And another]

“In time, however, you’ll grow to love the SEC.”

[Even more cowbells now]

“AND WE KNOW THAT THIS WILL BE BENEFICIAL FOR ALL PARTIES INVOLVED!”

[Michael now begins playing his cowbell which he was storing in his coat pocket. The Missouri officials look incredibly uncomfortable, but after 2 minutes the cowbells stop.]

“Now, are there any questions?”

[A Mizzou official clears his throat, and for the first time today someone speaks]

“Can you provide us with any necessary information regarding SEC basketball?”

[Silence. Complete and utter silence.]

Comical, no?

Missouri Tiger in Senior All-Star  Games

The Draft Season: Dominique Hamilton Shrine Game Photo Album

Post-Dispatch: Michael Egnew has his Senior moment
NFL.com: QB, TE among positions of interest at Senior Bowl

2. Who is the next Jimmy Graham?

The copycat nature of the NFL will lead scouts and coaches to spend most of the week searching for a big, athletic tight end with the ability to create mismatches in the passing game.

Stanford’s Coby Fleener and Missouri’s Michael Egnew enter the week with the biggest fanfare after their highly decorated careers, but they also have the games to match the hype. Both are polished pass catchers with sneaky speed and athleticism, and their natural ability should shine as deep middle threats.

Gabbert

USA Today: Hangin’ with MJD: The NFL playoffs, fantasy sports and more
CBS Sports (Rapid Reports): Bratkowski: Blaine Gabbert’s pocket presence is coachable
CBS Sports (Rapid Reports): Olson will be key in Gabbert development
CBS Sports (Rapid Reports): Development of Gabbert up to … Gabbert

A Daily links is not complete without some SEC news…

Mr. SEC: The SEC’s Mr. Transition Talks Scheduling
Senator Blutarsky: There’s only one meaningful tradition in today’s SEC

Dallas Morning News: A&M getting closer to settlement with Big 12

Dallas Morning News: Texas A&M board of regents grants Loftin ability to negotiate exit with Big 12

Outkick the Coverage: Texas A&M and Missouri worth at least $114 million a year to SEC Network

The Missourian: Missouri athletics has future in Kansas City, leaders say

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