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Championship Week Live Thread No. 2: Mizzou vs. Texas A&M

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Gotta win the first one before you can make a run, right?

Kevin C. Cox

What: 2014 SEC Tournament
Who: Missouri Tigers (21-10, 9-9) vs. Texas A&M Aggies (17-14, 8-10)
When: 12:00 p.m. CT
Where: Georgia Dome

TV: SEC TV (Brad Nessler, Jimmy Dykes)
Radio: Tiger Radio Network

I didn't write an outright preview for this one since I did so barely a week ago, the last time these teams met. There's no reason to delve deeply into the data when the data hasn't changed much. Here are some quick, general thoughts, however.

3-for-28

Mizzou has been almost impossibly bad from the 3-point line in the last two games. Jabari Brown is 1-for-8, Earnest Ross is 0-for-8, Jordan Clarkson is 0-for-6. Wes Clark, meanwhile, is a dominant 2-for-6.

We had to assume Brown was going to suffer some regression-to-the-mean after a 13-game stretch in which he shot 40-for-77 (52%) from behind the arc. Even with his pretty shot, that's a little too good. Still, I can't say that I say this coming: since shooting 3-for-7 against Florida, Brown is 10-for-43 (23%). He was 4-for-7 against Tennessee and Mississippi State at home, and he was 6-for-36 in the other seven games.

I'd say the regression has regressed enough. Time for it to move in the other direction. It almost literally can't go much further in the wrong direction.

Mizzou made just one of 11 3-point shots against A&M in Columbia. Shoot your season average (which would have been about 4-for-11), and you win comfortably. That probably applies to today, too. Make an average number of your jumpers and advance to play Florida.

Hey, speaking of cold jumpers...

Jabari has company. Earnest Ross made three of six 3-pointers against Mississippi State on March 1. In the other three most recent games (Georgia, A&M, Tennessee), he's 0-for-12. He's reverted back to all-or-nothing form in recent weeks: 2-for-11 against Kentucky and Florida, then 5-for-14 against Ole Miss; 10-for-22 in the following four games, then 3-for-18 in the four after that. Here's to one more nice, multi-game hot streak from Earnest.

Rebound

Mizzou shot horribly and beat A&M because of the glass. The Tigers were +8.2 in terms of expected rebounds and pulled down an awesome 50% offensive rebounding rate. (A&M's offensive rebounding rate: 24%.) And then they went to Tennessee and pulled down a 16% rate.

Mizzou will almost certainly shoot better this time around -- again, simply from the "it almost* can't get worse" perspective -- which is good because +8 is a pretty high, perhaps not-so-replicable target. If they can manage +5 in this one, the Tigers are probably safe. Anything less, and ... well, the jumpers better be falling. As long as the effort is there, this is certainly a doable number; A&M is eighth in the conference in defensive rebounding and dead last in offensive rebounding. Can't rebound when you're retreating to play tough defense, I guess.

* Yes, almost. It could technically get worse. Commence jinx accusations now.

Clarkson vs. Caruso again

Alex Caruso frustrated the hell out of Jordan Clarkson at Mizzou Arena, helping to hold Clarkson to 1-for-5 shooting with three turnovers in a miserable first half. Clarkson rebounded just in time in the second half, but this is once again a matchup worth watching.

Whistles

The Aggies don't draw many fouls and don't make them when they get them (61% in conference play). This was a huge advantage for Mizzou in Columbia, and ... hey, why don't we make sure it is again...

Effort and jumpers, basically

If Mizzou's collective mind is in the right place, and if the effort level is where it should be, the Tigers should win this game. A&M will ugly things up and play its typical tough defense -- something that has been quite the equalizer at random times this year (sweeping Tennessee, beating LSU by 10, almost winning in Columbia) while doing nothing of the sort at others (did you notice A&M lost at home to Auburn on Saturday?) -- but Mizzou's still a better team. If Mizzou is hitting the glass and attacking the rim, the Tigers should be rewarded. But it will still be a pretty tight game if the jumpers aren't falling. So uh, fall, jumpers.