Well it turns out Duke is better than Kansas State right now. That doesn’t mean KSU is limited – for heaven’s sake it’s just November, but Duke showed to be a more versatile team last week in the big showdown in Kansas City.
But hang your heads not, defenders of the Big 12. The league gets another chance for a big win tonight when No. 9 Missouri plays No. 16 Georgetown (8 p.m. ESPNU) at the Sprint Center. Both teams are unbeaten and talented.
Missouri has a lot of returning impact players. They include Laurence Bowers at forward, who is tall and has a nice balance of slashing ability and rebounding presence, important for a Mizzou team that didn’t rebound well last year. He also is a good shooter inside 15 feet and is arguably the best player on the team.
The primary guards are Mike Dixon, Marcus Denmon and Kim English. Dixon, a sophomore, is a solid defensive player with quickness and a beautiful jump shot. Denmon is probably the most complete guard for the Tigers and is critical for Mizzou’s offense to work. English, while streaky, has good size and has put up enough big offensive games that opponents must watch him closely.
Georgetown is led by Austin Freeman. Freeman is the Big East preseason player of the year and is off to a good start averaging 20 points per game. The Hoyas are led on the offensive end by Chris Wright, who gets seven assists per game. Wright was the primary point guard last year. Georgetown is regularly a great passing team. They love backdoor cuts as much as any team outside of the Ivy League. Their ability to operate in the halfcourt is critical to their scoring. They are well-coached by John Thompson III.
Meanwhile, Mizzou will use an aggressive full court press to generate deflections and turnovers. The Tigers’ bench depth allows Mike Anderson to employ this strategy without people getting too tired.
Neither team has faced an opponent this good until tonight. Big crowd advantage will go to MU, of course. The Tigers were good in Cancun but have been flat twice already at Mizzou Arena. I said Kansas State would need to rebound well to beat Duke. They outrebounded the Blue Devils by eight, but shot 3 for 17 from three-point range. Missouri is probably a better shooting team but will still need to hold its own on the glass to win.
Prediction: Georgetown 74-70