Still without a win in SEC play, Missouri returns home to take on Texas A&M. Is this the time for a Tigers win?
TV Schedule: Wednesday, February 07, 9:00 pm ET (ESPN 2)
Location: Mizzou Arena in Columbia, Missouri
Missouri (8-14) failed to pick up its first conference win of the season at Vanderbilt on Saturday. The Tigers led by 11 points early in the game but, due to poor shooting, ended up dropping the game 68-61. Noah Carter led all scorers with 20 points and six rebounds. Tamar Bates overcame a slow first half to add 17 points and five rebounds. And Nick Honor scored all 11 of his points in the second half.
Sean East II (15.6 ppg 3.5 rpg) has been the team's most consistent scorer this season, scoring under 10 points only five times. In his second year with Mizzou, East has shown major improvements on offense, more than doubling his scoring average from year one while making an incredible 46.6 percent from three.
East hasn’t been the sole offensive force for the Tigers. Tamar Bates (13.9 ppg) has also taken a huge leap forward since the season began. The Indiana transfer has made the most of his minutes since joining the starting lineup on November 28. Bates averaged 7.3 points coming off the bench, but as a starter, he averages 17 per game and just under 20 per game in conference play.
Noah Carter (12 ppg 5.1 rpg) and Nick Honor (10.3 ppg) round out the bulk of the scoring for Missouri’s offense, which has proven to be inconsistent and prone to long-scoring droughts. Mizzou lacks a consistent scoring threat but has turned to Bates to fill this role as of late.
The Tigers have been one of the better teams when it comes to blocks (5 bpg) and steals (8.1 spg), but that is where the strengths on the defense end. Missouri has struggled most of the season to stop its opponents. The Tigers are giving up 74 points per game. Mizzou lacks a solid interior defender, allowing opponents to make over 50 percent inside the arc. Missouri is also one of the worst rebounding (32 rpg) teams in the country.
Texas A&M (13-8) picked up its fourth conference win on Saturday, a one-point win over Florida. Tyrece Radford led the Aggies with 26 points in the win. Wade Taylor IV added 15 points to knock off the Gators.
A&M has one of the better defenses in college basketball. The Aggies only allow 68.2 points per game, but where it really excels is on the boards. A&M ranks first in offensive rebounds per game (18.4) and second in total rebounds per game (43.4).
The Aggies are solid on offense. Texas A&M averages 73.5 points per game, led by Wade Taylor IV. Taylor (19.8 ppg) has been the Aggies' best offensive weapon this season. Though seven conference games Taylor is averaging 23.3 points, with games of 30 and 41 points. Tyrece Radford (13.8) has also been solid for the Aggies as the team's second-leading scorer.
The Aggies have been vulnerable this season due to poor shooting. Texas A&M is one of the worst shooting teams this season. A&M makes 39.1 percent from the field, 26.7 percent from three, and 68.9 percent from the line. Only a handful of Division I teams have worse percentages.
Missouri deployed a zone defense in the previous matchup to slow down Texas A&M, but turnovers and fouls likely cost the Tigers the win. The Aggies made 27 free throws to make matters worse for Missouri.
The Tigers are capable of keeping this game close. Texas A&M misses enough shots to allow Missouri to stick around. With that being said, I don’t see Mizzou picking up the win. Until Missouri proves it can get stops on the defensive end and limit offensive rebounds, I'd have a hard time picking them to beat many teams.