The Tigers managed to avoid their first three-game losing streak of the season by beating Mississippi State in overtime on Tuesday. Missouri likely booked a berth in the NCAA Tournament with the win — Mizzou was in the 107 predictions the Bracket Project Matrix tracks with an 8.60 seed average on Thursday.
The team is one of five in the nation to have five wins against Quad 1 opponents and no losses in Quads 2-4, joining Baylor, Kansas, Purdue and Texas. The Tigers end the regular season facing three teams in the bottom four of the SEC standings, meaning they can’t add another “good win” to their case. Mizzou’s aim now is to keep his CV free from ‘bad losses’.
It begins with a clash against Georgia in the first leg of a two-game road trip. Bulldogs aren’t always easy to store at Stegeman Coliseum. Although they lost two games to Vanderbilt and Ole Miss, they also had victories against teams near the top of the conference in Auburn and Kentucky.
Georgia, led by the head coach Mike White, is coming off two of its toughest losses of the year, losing to Alabama, 108-59, and Arkansas, 97-65, both on the road. UM Head Coach Denis Gates expects the Bulldogs to want to show they are a better team.
“(It’s) definitely an opportunity, another game on the road, a contest on the road,” Gates said. “It’s definitely going to be a challenge, like all SEC games. But you know, Georgia just suffered a tough loss, so we have to be able to emotionally compensate for how they feel about it by protecting their home turf. So definitely a tough game for us and one we can’t wait to play.
TIP TIME INFORMATION
Missouri (20-8, 8-7 SEC) at Georgia (16-12, 6-9)
WHEN: 12pm CT
OR: Stegeman Coliseum, Athens, Georgia
Television: SEC Network
SERIES: Missouri leads, 10-8
KENPOM PREDICTION: Missouri 80, Georgia 77
BEST RANGE OF LAST 5 RELEASES (by CBB Analytics)
Nick Honor-Sean East II-DeAndre Gholston-Kobe Brown-Mohamed Diarra
Minutes played: 10
Offensive Rating: 179.6
Defensive Rating: 93.7
Net score: +85.9
KEYS TO THE GAME
1. Swarm Terry Roberts. Georgia’s main full-back has the ball in his hands a good chunk of the time. According to KenPom, 29.6% of team possession ends in a hit, miss or turnover by Roberts while the senior is on the ground, who ranks 52nd in the nation. In addition to leading the Bulldogs in points, Roberts also leads the team with a 33.0% assist rate, which ranks 36th in the nation. However, Roberts isn’t necessarily an effective offensive option, posting below average shooting percentages and spitting the ball on 19.6% of his personal possessions. Putting pressure on Roberts should keep Georgia’s offense out of sync.
2. Keep the Bulldogs off the foul line. Georgia is similar to Texas A&M in that a large portion of its points — 23.3%, to be exact — come from free throws. Four different players shoot at least 4.0 fouls per 40 minutes. Kario Oquendo leads the pack, drawing 5.5 fouls per 40 minutes, which ranks 93rd in the NCAA, and sinking 91 of his 122 free throw attempts. The Aggies went to the line 32 times in their opener against Missouri in College Station, Texas. But the Tigers showed improvement in the rematch inside Mizzou Arena, allowing Texas A&M to shoot just 19 free throws. The Bulldogs could get a favorable whistle in their home arena, but it’s up to Missouri to keep it from being a big factor.
3. Go to the hoop. Georgia is pretty solid on defense along the 3-point line, allowing opponents to shoot just 31.7 percent from long range. The team gives up much more inside the arc, however, where opponents connect on 50.7% of their attempts. Although the team rotation features two players 6-foot-10 or taller, none of the Bulldogs average more than 0.4 blocks per game. The Tigers have been one of the best teams to score inside this season, making 55.6% of their 2-pointers, which ranks them 18th in the nation. Mizzou should enjoy his matchup against a team with sub-par rim protection.
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