Can Missouri avoid letdown at OU? (Preview, links)

MIZZ
OKLA
W-L 21-2 13-9
Avg Points 80.9 71.9
Avg Points Allowed 64.1 68.5
Home Record 13-0 9-3
Road Record 4-2 1-4
Current Streak W3 L2

Missouri Tigers at Oklahoma Sooners
Monday, February 6th 2011 – 6:00 P.M. Central
TV: ESPNU / RADIO: Tiger Radio Network

Missouri Tigers (21-2, 8-2 Big 12)
Streak: Won 3

PROBABLE STARTERS
POS. NAME (STATS) YR. HT. WT.
G Phil Pressey (9.5 ppg, leads Big 12 with 5.9 assists, 2.35 steals per game) SO 5-10 175
G Matt Pressey (7.5 ppg, 3.6) SR 6-2 185
G Marcus Denmon (17.7 ppg, 5.5 rpp, reigning Big 12 player of the week) SR 6-3 185
F Kim English (14.3 ppg, 4.3 rpg) SR 6-6 200
F Ricardo Ratliffe (14.3 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 74.7% from the field) SR 6-8 240

Oklahoma Sooners (13-9, 3-7 Big 12)
Streak: Lost 2

PROBABLE STARTERS
POS. NAME (STATS) YR. HT. WT.
G Sam Grooms (6.0 ppg , 5.7 apg) JR 6-1 203
G Steven Pledger (17.6 ppg, 4.0 rpg) JR 6-4 222
G Cameron Clark (8 pgg, 4 rpg) SO 6-6 198
F Andrew Fitzgerald (13.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg) JR 6-8 247
F Romero Osby (12.5 ppg, 7.8 rpg) JR 6-8 232

Last time Missouri had a huge win – at No. 3 Baylor – the Tigers moved up to No. 2 in the polls and turned around and lost their next game at a lackluster Oklahoma State.

The Tigers (21-2, 8-2 Big 12) are in a 3-way tie for first place and coming off the heels of one of their most memorable wins in recent memory (although I claim the win on the road at Baylor was a bigger win, not the home win over that “other” team) and have a short turnaround, playing some 44 hours after the final buzzer sounded in Columbia.

The team was on the road for Norman less that 12 hours after the game, but head coach Frank Haith was prepared. He had his team stay in a hotel to get focused on OU.

“It is always great to beat Kansas,” junior guard Michael Dixon said. “But now its time for Oklahoma.”

Norman has not been a kind place to Missouri, where the Tigers are just 20-65 all-time. The non-Big Monday Monday night game (6 pm, ESPNU) will be a lot closer than the first meeting this year – an 87-49 Missouri drubbing in the Big 12 opener for both teams.

Oklahoma started 0-3 in conference play, won two in a row and now has lost four of its last five. The Sooners (13-9, 3-7) are 2-3 at home in conference play, with two close losses to ranked Kansas and Baylor and a 77-70 loss to NCAA-bound Iowa State.

“We have got to keep working,” Kruger said. “We have a long way to go. As disappointing as this is, there is obviously not much time to let up before we play again. We have got to bounce back and make some progress and get better for Monday.”

They have faced a rough schedule, and while they haven’t done particularly well against it, they haven’t embarrassed themselves either.

Missouri, 3-2 in conference road games, has lost in its last two trips to Oklahoma, most recently a 66-61 defeat on Jan. 16, 2010, but they have won three straight against Oklahoma as a ranked team — the last two by a combined 61 points — each coming since the beginning of last February.

According to Kem Pomeroy, Oklahoma does have some advantages, but Missouri’s are HUGE:

OU Offense vs MU Defense Ranks
OU Offense MU Defense Advantage
Efficiency 63 57 Push
Effective FG% 211 182 MU
Turnover % 53 49 Push
Off. Reb. % 23 116 OU
FTA/FGA 282 9 MU Big
MU Offense vs OU Defense Ranks
MU Offense OU Defense Advantage
Efficiency 1 113 MU Big
Effective FG% 2 198 MU Big
Turnover % 4 137 MU Big
Off. Reb. % 181 149 OU
FTA/FGA 100 77 OU

The offense runs through guard Steven Pledger (16.3 ppg in Big 12 play) and power forward Andrew Fitzgerald (14.9), who scored a career-best 27 points in Saturday’s 77-70 loss to Iowa State. Big Man, Mississippi State transfer Romero Osby, is the top rebounder (6.6 in Big 12) and is third in scoring (14.5.).

Pledger has taken between 12 and 17 shots in every game since Missouri. The number he makes, however, varies. Pledger scored 30 points on 11-for-17 shooting in their upset of Kansas State, but he was just 5-for-14 for 14 points against Iowa State Saturday, 5-for-15 for 16 points against Texas A&M and 3-for-13 for nine points against Oklahoma State.

Pledger, along with Carl Blair, has taken 85 of the OU’s 110 3’s in conference play. Pledger is 26-for-63 (41%), Blair just 4-for-22 (18%). Nobody else has taken more than nine. Tyler Neal is 1-for-9, Grooms 0-for-8, Osby 3-for-6, Cameron Clark 0-for-2.

One of OU’s major problems in outside their top three, they get virtually nothing out of anyone else.

Bottom line is this is a game Missouri should win this game. The spread is 5 1/2. That sounds about right. It a road game in the Big 12, so it could be close. Missouri could also get hot and win by 20. They are A LOT better than OU. But, I thought that about Oklahoma State, too. Could be a shootout as the teams are allowing league worst field goal shooting.

What makes Missouri so tough this year is anyone on the team can beat you, and all seven players has won a game at some point. On every night, it’s been a different player. Take away one weapon and Missouri uses another to beat you. Who will it be against Oklahoma? Hopefully, its Denmon, again. If he has his stroke back, then Missouri will be tough to beat down the stretch. Missouri made 12 3’s the first time against OU and Iowa State made 15 on Saturday.

***

MUtigers.com: No. 4 Tigers Face Sooners Monday
The Trib (Steve Walentik): What to watch for: Oklahoma (Round 2)
KC Star: Haith tries to keep Mizzou focused for Oklahoma game
Post-Dispatch: MU tries to avoid letdown at Oklahoma
Daily Oklahoman: Sooners are improved since first meeting with Missouri
Daily Oklahoman: Steven Pledger is Sooners’ only 3-point threat

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