These days it’s starting to seem like a Kansas home win over rival Missouri sits somewhere between death and taxes as a sure thing. The Tigers haven’t won there since 1999, coach Norm Stewart’s last game at Allen Fieldhouse.
Two things have led to KU’s recent dominance at AFH. 1) The Jayhawks have been very good almost every year. 2) Since Mike Anderson got to Mizzou, even when the Tigers have been good, KU has taken away their best weapon of full court pressure.
Key for Missouri
The Tigers should adopt a new defensive strategy for this game. Don’t press.
Here’s why: The press is most effective against bad teams and thin benches. Kansas is neither. Last year, Sherron Collins put on a clinic on how to get the ball upcourt quickly after a made Missouri basket. He is no longer there, but I trust Bill Self has helped Josh Selby and Tyshawn Taylor learn how to do the same against pressing teams.
I know this is not what Mike Anderson likes to do. Look, I don’t agree with the group of Missouri folks that doesn’t like the “Fastest 40 Minutes” style. It works a lot, but it will not work Monday.
I would suggest Mizzou play more of a halfcourt defense. The Tigers could go man-to-man for a few possessions and switch to zone for a bit, or vice versa. Playing man would force the Jayhawks to go one-on-one, and while they would score that way sometimes, they would have a tougher time breaking the game open with unchallenged three-point shots.
Switching up defenses can make running offensive sets complicated and confusing, and that’s exactly where KU is most likely to beat MU. Even Saturday, the Jayhawks looked more comfortable in their halfcourt offensive set against Nebraska than Missouri did against Colorado.
It goes without saying Missouri also needs to rebound better, but with Laurence Bowers still trying to work his way back to full effectiveness, there aren’t a lot of physical players left. KU’s Morris twins will win most of the battles underneath against Ricardo Ratliffe and Steve Moore.
Key for KansasThe Jayhawks must extend their defense to challenge three-pointers. Missouri is not a great outside shooting team (Marcus Denmon is the best at 46%) but this is one way Missouri can stay in the game.
The Jayhawks have the advantage down low, so Missouri might be tempted to shoot jumpers off the dribble. As long as Kansas extends to make Missouri pay for this choice, the Jayhawks should win going away.
Again, it goes without saying that another important responsibility for Kansas is to take care of the ball. Whether or not Missouri presses (and I’m assuming they still will), the Tigers know how to convert off turnovers.
Even in its Big 12 wins, Missouri has not looked good enough to win this type of game. Beyond the obvious fact that MU hasn’t won a conference road game, the Tigers still make too many poor choices regarding when to shoot and where to pass. As long as Kansas knocks down a few jump shots, they’ll be able to pound the Tigers inside and you can turn the lights out.
Kansas 85, Missouri 62