Friday, February 22, 2013

Kentucky vs Missouri...A Preview

Kentucky vs Missouri….2/23/13 
(Saturday 9 PM) TV-ESPN

UK leads the series 4-0

Missouri Tigers

Location: Columbia, Mo.
Enrollment: 33,805
Arena: 15,061

Head Coach: Frank Haith
Career Record: 159-106 (60.0%) 8 seasons
At Missouri: 30-5 (85.7%) 1 season

2011-12 Record: 30-5
2011-12 Big XII Record: 14-4
2011-12 Postseason: NCAA 0-1

2012-13 Record: 19-7
2012-13 SEC Record: 8-5

Missouri 83 SIU-Edwardsville 69
Missouri 91 Alcorn St. 54
Missouri 74 Nicholls St. 54
Missouri 78 Stanford 70
Louisville 84 Missouri 61
Missouri 68 VCU 65
Missouri 72 Appalachian St. 56
Missouri 81 Southeast Missouri 65
Missouri 68 Tennessee St. 38
Missouri 102 South Carolina St. 51
Missouri 82 Illinois 73
UCLA 97 Missouri 94 (OT)
Missouri 66 Bucknell 64
Missouri 84 Alabama 68
Ole Miss 64 Missouri 49
Missouri 79 Georgia 62
Florida 83 Missouri 52
Missouri 71 South Carolina 65
Missouri 81 Vandy 59
LSU 73 Missouri 70
Missouri 91 Auburn 77
Texas A&M 70 Missouri 68
Missouri 98 Ole Miss 79
Missouri 78 Mississippi St. 36
Arkansas 73 Missouri 71
Missouri 63 Florida 60


Probable Starting Lineup

Laurence Bowers-F 6’8” Sr………………….….14.2 PPG
Alex Oriakhi-F 6’9” Sr……………………….…10.3 PPG
Keion Bell-G 6’4” Sr……………………………11.6 PPG
Phil Pressey-G 5’11” Jr……………………….…11.8 PPG
Jabari Brown-G 6’5” Soph………………………14.5 PPG

Other Key Players

Earnest Ross-G 6’5” Jr…………………………...10.5 PPG
Tony Chriswell-F 6’9” Jr…………………………5.4 PPG

Last season Missouri went 30-5 and were a #2 seed in the NCAA tourney, but were upset by 15th seed Norfolk St. in their 1st NCAA game. This season 8 players, including 4 starters, are gone from last season’s team. As a result, coach Frank Haith had to rebuild his entire roster….and he did so by adding 4 excellent transfers….Earnest Ross from Auburn….Alex Oriakhi from U Conn…..Keion Bell from Pepperdine….and Jabari Brown from Oregon. Three of the transfers are starters and one plays major minutes. Missouri also added 6 freshmen, but see little action.

Missouri is getting it’s first taste of SEC basketball and the going is a bit tougher than they expected. The Tigers have held home court winning all 8 SEC games at home, including defeating highly ranked Florida. However, the Tigers have lost all 5 road games in the SEC this far this season, but two losses were by only 2 points and one loss by just 3 points.

Missouri is an outstanding rebounding team led by Oriakhi at 8.6 RPG and Bowers at 6.1 RPG….but, other Tigers players do a good job on the boards as well. Scoring is very evenly distributed as all 5 starters are scoring in double figures plus Ross of the bench.

Phil Pressey is the Tiger PG who makes the offense go, but while he leads the team in assists with 179 and steals with 48….he also leads in TO’s with 97. In addition, despite not being a good shooter, Pressey takes the most shots by far with 289 and is only shooting 36.7% from the field. Pressey also takes the 2nd most perimeter shots and has an awful percentage hitting only 29.7%. Missouri does have some very good perimeter shooters with Bowers hitting 39.5%…..Ross 38.4% and Brown 37.3%. No one questions that Pressey is very athletic….very quick….and a great passer, but he gets criticized for too often playing out of control and taking too many bad shots. However, when Pressey plays well he is one of the best PG’s, but unfortunately for Missouri….Pressey has had more than his share of bad games. Still, any opponent has to respect Pressey’s ability to get to the basket and his ability as a great passer.

Missouri arrives at Rupp arena fresh off a great home win over Florida. The Tigers will be a very confident team hoping to garner their first road win in the SEC.

UK, in contrast, has had to climb out of a bad game at Florida and a horrible game against Tennessee…and with their backs to the wall defeated a feisty Vandy team at Rupp arena. Coach Cal liked the great energy the Cats exhibited and the solid teamwork in winning over Vandy. Importantly, UK got very good play out of Harrow and Goodwin at the guard positions and a great game out of Willie Cauley-Stein in the pivot.

The loss of Noel is huge, but WCS is trying his best to give UK a solid presence in the paint….. but he can’t play all 40 minutes. When Willie is out of the lineup for 8-12 minutes of the game…UK is small on the frontline and if Willie and/or Poythress gets into foul trouble it places great pressure on the team to defend the paint and get rebounds.

As the saying goes….”you play the cards you are dealt with”….now this UK team without Noel….will need to play with great energy defensively and play smart on the offensive end. The Missouri game is both a great challenge and a great opportunity for the Cats…. as a win would be a big plus in consideration for the NCAA.There is no question that Missouri will be a much more difficult opponent than Vandy…..the Tigers start 3 seniors and a junior…..they are experienced and very athletic….and will not be intimidated by a UK team playing without Nerlens Noel.

UK will need to play their best overall game of the year to defeat Missouri and they will need great support from the Rupp arena fans. Gameday should help fuel great enthusiasm from Cat fans. I have a feeling that after the win over Vandy….these young Cats just might have found their mojo and could surprise the Missouri Tigers with a 2 point win! GO CATS!

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