Last season, the Missouri Tigers won the Big 12 Tournament Championship and reached the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament (oh yeah, and they beat the Dawgs in Athens 83-76).
They lost their top 3 scorers from that team, but they haven’t dropped off that much. Mizzu is currently 10-3 and riding a 5-game win streak that includes an 81-68 victory over the two team’s common opponent – The Fighting Illini. The Tigers are 8-0 at home this season, and are actually in the midst of a 27-game home winning streak that dates back to the 2006-2007 season.
We are just getting started…
This Mizzu team plays tenacious full-court pressure and they are deep. Nine out of ten Tigers have reached double-figures in scoring so far this season, and ten different players are averaging 10.8 minutes per game.
The Tigers are currently ranked #2 in the country in steals at a blistering 12.7 per game, and they have reached DOUBLE-FIGURES in steals 11 out of 13 games! This is an unbelievable statistical accomplishment…Furthermore, Mizzu is forcing opponents into 21.8 turnovers a game and scoring an average of 28 points off those turnovers.
They are holding opponents to an ugly 38.5% from the field, and Mizzu is only surrendering 62.8 points a contest (they are scoring 83.8 per game themselves). Their defensive leader is 6’3″ senior point guard J.T. Tiller, who last year was named the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year…Guess where Tiller is from? Marietta, GA…he claims he wasn’t offered by any schools in Georgia (nice job D. Felton).
On the offensive side of the ball, the Tigers are hitting 47.1% of their field goal attempts along with 40.8% from behind the arc. They are led by smooth-shooting sophomore guard Kim English who is averaging 16.8 per contest. Missouri’s scoring is so balanced that I think it would be silly to list all the guys and their point averages cause it looks something like this – 10, 10, 9, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 5.
The only chink in the armor that I could find in this team is that they tend to get out rebounded…Missouri is averaging 36.5 rebounds per game but opponents are beating them out at 37.5.
Keys to the Game
- Hit the Boards – In two of Missouri’s three losses this season, they were significantly out rebounded by their opponents…in an 89-83 loss to Vanderbilt, the Commodores grabbed 46 rebounds to the Tigers 25. Against Oral Roberts, Mizzu lost the rebounding battle 28 to 36 and were beaten 60-59. Georgia does have a big front court (Thompkins, Jackson, Barnes, Price), and those guys need to really assert themselves and give the Dawgs an advantage inside.
- Slow It Down – Missouri wants to press full-court all day and rattle opponents into turnovers. Williams, Ware and McPhee need to be prepared (actually the whole team does) to play strong with the ball and get it across half court. If Georgia can handle the pressure and limit turnovers they will slow down Mizzu’s momentum. Once the ball crosses half court, I want to see the Dawgs use most of the shot clock. Mizzu wants this thing to turn into a chaotic track meet that will enable them to get a bunch of easy fast-break points. The Dawgs need to slow this game down and “ugly” it up a bit.
The game tips off Saturday at 4:00PM ET. We’ll have to listen to this one on 750AM, unless you are planning on either going to the game or you are a subscriber to the Missouri Sports Network (it might be on ESPN360 as well).
I think this is going to be the Dawgs toughest opponent yet (especially since UGA is still searching for its first road win)…any other thoughts? Can Georgia extend it’s current win streak to four games?