Missouri 2009 NCAA Tournament Preview
Missouri Tigers - Big 12 Conference (28-6, 12-4)
Seed: #3 - West Region
Big Wins: 1/21 at Oklahoma State (97-95), 2/9 Kansas (62-60), 3/4 Oklahoma (73-64)
Bad Losses: 1/10 at Nebraska (51-56), 1/28 at Kansas State (72-88), 3/7 at Texas A&M (86-96)
Last NCAA Appearance: 2003, Second Round loss to Marquette
Coach: Mike Anderson (3-3 in 3 NCAA appearances)
Probable Missouri Starters:
Zaire Taylor, Junior, Guard, 6.5 ppg, 3.5 appg
Matt Lawrence, Senior, Guard, 9.0 ppg, 2.1 rpg
J.T. Tiller, Junior, Guard, 7.9 ppg, 3.6 apg, 1.8 spg
DeMarre Carroll, Senior, Forward, 16.8 ppg, 7.3 rpg
Leo Lyons, Senior, Forward, 14.2 ppg, 6.0 rpg
Key Missouri Roleplayers:
Marcus Denmon, Freshman, Guard, 6.3 ppg, 1.4 apg
Kim English, Freshman, Guard, 6.2 ppg, 1.1 apg
Miguel Paul, Freshman, Guard, 3.3 ppg, 1.5 apg
Keith Ramsey, Junior, Forward, 3.6 ppg, 2.8 rpg
Justin Safford, Sophomore, Forward, 3.3 ppg, 2.1 rpg
Why The Tigers Can Surprise:
Missouri, under Coach Mike Anderson, likes to run. So it is no surprise that a lot of scoring leads to a lot of assists. But usually running also results in a lot of turnovers. That is not the case with the 2008-2009 Tigers. Zaire Taylor, a transfer from Delaware, deserves most of the credit for keeping the turnovers down. Taylor dishes out 3.5 assists per game and only turns it over 1.2 times. His starting backcourt mate, J.T. Tiller, is nearly as impressive with 3.6 assists and 1.6 turnovers per contest. The team entered the year with some major questions at the point, but those questions have been answered.
The Tigers will live with committing a few turnovers here and there because their high pressure defense almost always creates more turnovers than they give up. As good as Taylor and Tiller are at hanging onto the ball, they are better at getting it back. Both are noted defenders with long arms that can disrupt passing lanes and that leads to a lot of steals.
Why The Tigers Can Disappoint:
Besides the ever popular free-throw shooting issues, the only things that can stop Missouri are foul trouble and rebounding. The Tigers aggressive defense will lead to a ton of fouls. Coach Anderson has a deep bench, but if the opposition can take advantage of their opportunities at the line the Missouri defense will be neutralized. DeMarre Carroll and Leo Lyons are the two bigs in the starting lineup. They are the best two scorers on the team and both can even step out and hit the outside shot. That makes them extremely difficult to defend, but it also means Missouri can have some trouble on the glass.
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Who To Watch:
It would be beneficial if there was somebody on the perimeter who could help out on the glass, but there really is not. Matt Lawrence started the year at that spot, but Kim English was moved into the position, in part because he is 6-6 and a better rebounder and defender. Lawrence, the team’s third leading scorer, is a tremendous outside shooter. He has proven to be just as effective off the bench, albeit just as inconsistent, as he was as a starter. Having an experienced scorer like Lawrence providing a spark off the bench is a very, very nice thing for the Tigers to have. He is not a bad player to have in the starting lineup either.
Missouri By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 81.8 (6th in nation, 2nd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 67.1 (151, 7)
Field-Goal Percentage: 47.3 (37, 3)
Field-Goal Defense: 42.0 (105, 6)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.2 (83, 5)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 36.3 (80, 7)
Free-Throw Percentage: 66.6 (241, 11)
Rebound Margin: 0.3 (174, 6)
Assists Per Game: 18.8 (1, 1)
Turnovers Per Game: 12.5 (53, 4)
Joel’s Bracket Says: Final Four loss to Louisville
By Joel Welser
CollegeSports-fans.com Senior Basketball Writer
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