March 3, 2012; Lubbock, TX, USA; Missouri Tigers forward Richardo Ratliffe (10) goes for basket against the Texas Tech Red Raiders forward Robert Lewandowski (15) in the second half at the United Spirit Arena. Missouri defeated Texas Tech 81-59. Mandatory Credit: Michael C. Johnson-US PRESSWIRE
After a sluggish first half, Mizzou opened up the floor--not to mention a can--in the second half.
1. Move along people. Nothing to see here. Mizzou did what it needed to do against a game, but overmatched Red Raiders squad. (Here's hoping Billy
Kennedy Gillespie gets that thing turned around.) The shooting from distance is obviously the story in this game, along with Ratliffe getting a career-high in boards. Tech was frequently slow and/or confused on rotations and they didn't get back on defense to matchup with the shooters. As I said in another post, what often makes Mizzou's runs so demoralizing is that they're not making spectacular shots. Mizzou beats defenses at the level of basic organizing principle with ball movement and shooters everywhere on the floor.
2. Good to see Matt Pressey get back in the flow. It has been a while sense he has been a notable presence. He didn't just hit shots yesterday. He looked fluid.
Bonus point. If you watched the UNC-Duke matchup last night you saw what, to my mind at least, is a big reason I like this Mizzou team more than Duke (as does Ken Pomeroy). Although Missouri isn't as talented as the Blue Devils, specifically on the interior, I think the Tigers get better shots against quality defenses because of the spacing, movement, and Phlip. Everything for Duke last night was high effort with maximum dribbles, especially in the first half.* Give tremendous credit to UNC, because they're an excellent defensive team that doesn't always play that way. Still, Rivers and Curry really gave the ball a headache last night. Every move was an eight dribble move, and none of their guards could create off their penetration.** Kansas is every bit as good defensively as North Carolina, and our struggles in Lawrence came primarily because of a mismatch between our personnel and our sets. But, the Tigers had lengthy stretches in both games where they carved an elite Kansas defense down to the bone. Even in the game Duke won, mostly they beat their defender one-on-one.
*As a caveat let me say that for my money when North Carolina is right and into it I don't know if anyone can beat them, except maybe Kentucky. However, I still think the Tar Heels are one ball handler short of being a prohibitive favorite for a title. Without Franklin their offense can quickly devolve into a mess, and if they're not scoring they probably won't defend.
** I should also note that Duke has played on the whole against better defenses than Mizzou, according to KenPom.com. Really I am comparing the two games for both teams against an elite defensive conference opponent (i.e., North Carolina and Kansas).