Special early game for MLK Day – 4:30 p.m. ESPN – Kansas State heads to Mizzou for a big game in Columbia. The Wildcats finally got an easy win over Texas Tech, while Missouri was edged on the road at Texas A&M.KANSAS STATE: Well Kansas State proved to us on Saturday they are capable of crushing one of the least talented teams in the league – not a cheap shot at Texas Tech but just a reality at this point. The Wildcats cruised the whole way, turning in the kind of performance we would have expected in a game like this when the game started.
Funny thing is, as much trouble as K-State has had up front, the Wildcats should have an advantage here against Missouri (especially with Curtis Kelly now back). Ricardo Ratliffe gives the Tigers a true low-post threat they hadn’t had in quite a while, but Mizzou is still a perimeter-oriented team.
As is usually the case when playing in Columbia, objective #1 for the visitor is limiting turnovers. This is not meant to repeat what every talking head says, but the fact is Missouri gets a lot of cheap points at home by forcing errant passes.
MISSOURI: We’ve learned a lot about Missouri in its two conference losses and one conference win. Marcus Denmon has established himself as the primary offensive option. His 50% three-point shooting looks more impressive as the sample gets larger. Laurence Bowers has been a strong rebounder for a team that desperately needs one. Phil Pressey and Kim English can help with the scoring responsibility too.
Mizzou is top 10 nationally in scoring offense, but Mike Anderson likes his teams to be built on defense. The Tigers have lost when one player from the other team took over for a stretch (Georgetown’s Jason Clark, Colorado’s Alec Burks, A&M’s Khris Middleton). Jacob Pullen is capable of that kind of effort.
Just ignore Kansas State’s conference record. It’s still ugly, and it’s unlikely they’ll win the conference title as they were picked by the coaches to do. They are much better than 8th or 9th in this league. They will begin to look more like the team we saw on paper at the start of the year. But this series has been dominated by the home team in recent meetings, and it will be again.
Like the rival Jayhawks, Mizzou wins by 8 or 10 points on Monday.