You can't really sum it up much better than today's study hall, especially since I only got to see the 2nd half. So if you haven't already, head there first and come back. I'll wait... Okay.
1. Mizzou::KSU as Baylor::Mizzou. KSU seems to be kryptonite for our beloved Tigers much the same way we are for Baylor. Our matchup problems against KSU are kinda obvious yet also subtle. KSU obviously has size and length advantages, but we also lack a bona fide quickness advantage at any position (apart from whomever Will Spradling guards). That part is key. It means that in the main we really don't stress their half court defense, getting people out of position to set up good shots. That's what makes Mizzou special in my opinion. Our quickness advantages stress and flex a defense so that we don't just make shots. We get good shots. We don't just beat players--though Dixon is fabulous at that--we beat schemes. That's what makes opposing coaches gush. To the Cats' credit their size/speed ratio and their defensive schemes just don't allow good looks; it's not just against us. Offenses have a tough time beating their scheme or their players.
KSU's issues are usually on the offensive end, just not against us evidently. If you'd told me Monday that we would out-board KSU in expected off. rebounds and out-BCI them I'd have said we win by ten. We lost by ten. They stroked it last night like they do it every night. It's very frustrating. This is how Duke must feel about Florida State. In fact, I kinda hope KSU goes to the tournament and ends up paired against Duke. I have nothing against Duke, I just see the matchup problems as somewhat similar* and I'm curious about what they'd do differently.
* I recognize that Duke has more functional size that Mizzou, but their offense is similarly perimeter oriented.
2. Mizzou still controls its own destiny. Just to leave things on a hopeful note, KSU is a terrible matchup for us and yet the narrative about this loss is very different than what one might expect. Mizzou essentially won many of the "little things/hustle stats" but just couldn't throw it in the ocean. The Tigers had eight steals, 12 offensive boards, and only 10 turnovers. KSU mostly shot themselves to a victory. They didn't out-hustle or out-scheme an entitled team that was looking ahead. Mizzou had the ball with a chance to tie late in the game. KSU hit clutch shots to stymie runs to keep Mizzou at arm's length for most of the night. Some nights you lose and mostly you just tip your cap to your opponent.
Much basketball remains no matter what happens Saturday, and if nothing else these Tigers have demonstrated beyond question that they will make enough plays in every phase to give themselves a shot every single night. As a fan, none of us has the right to ask for (much less expect) anything more.