The Tigers found out they weren’t invincible on Saturday by getting thrashed at Kansas State. The loss wasn’t a hard one to see coming, considering Missouri has historically laid eggs in Manhattan and struggled just a week before in their first true road game against Old Dominion.
Missouri isn’t as dominating as it looked against California, but it also isn’t as bad as it looked Saturday. The Tigers, however, will have tough time bouncing back against Iowa State tonight. The Cyclones will be bringing a ton of confidence into tonight’s game as they are off to a great conference start with wins over Texas and Texas A&M.
Texas may be a bit down and A&M has been disappointing, but there is still something to be said for beating two teams that have been good in recent years, especially when you haven’t. Iowa State doesn’t match up as well against Missouri as it doesn’t have the abundance of size Kansas State did. Royce White (6-8) and Melvin Ejim (6-6) see the majority of the minutes in the front court. I’d expect Percy Gibson (6-9) and Anthony Booker (6-9), who both average 11 minutes a game, to exceed that average tonight.
This isn’t exactly going out on a limb, but White could do a lot of damage in this game, especially if Ricardo Ratliffe gets into early foul trouble. That has been and will continue to be the theme with Missouri, but it becomes that much more important when the other team’s best forward is as good as White. White has done a decent job at getting to the line this year (6.6 free throw attempts per game) and should be banging up against Ratliffe early trying to draw those fouls.
This will also be a game the Tigers will very much miss Laurence Bowers. White is an especially athletic big, and it’ll be tough for the plodding Ratliffe and Moore to keep up with him on the perimeter.
For Missouri to do well it will need to be patient and get some easy looks early, and not revert back to their contested-three safety blanket. Iowa State’s guards have done a good job not turning the ball over this year, so it is unlikely the Tigers will get the easy transition baskets they’ve thrived off of this year. If they get off to a cold start it will spur the crowd and the Tigers will find themselves in a hole like they did in Manhattan.
That being said, the Tigers will undoubtedly still throw up a lot of three’s, whether they are good shots or not. The game should be filled with three’s, as Chris Babb, Marcus Denmon, Chris Allen and Kim English are in the conference’s top ten in three-point attempts. That doesn’t even include Scott Christopherson or Mike Dixon.
Prediction: I’ve been going back and forth on who I think will win this game, and the flip-flopping deals with Missouri’s seniors. Part of me thinks that their road struggles from the last few years haven’t disappeared and they’ll continue tonight. But another partthinks that because they’ve been around, the Tiger seniors can change that tonight.
White may be the best player the Tigers have faced this season, and it’s great news for Iowa State matchup-wise that he is 6-9. I think that Missouri will again find itself in a big hole, through a combination rushed shots and mounting frustration. I think they’ll fight back and make a run, as they did against Kansas State, and that Iowa State won’t be able to re-stretch the lead. But I don’t think the Tigers will have enough, and it’ll be a close loss for Missouri. Let’s say 66-62 in favor of Iowa State.