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Tonight’s Mizzou-Georgia game pits 2 of the SEC’s best players against each other

Here are today’s Mizzou Links.

Finally, a chance to get rid of the bitter taste of the Florida game: Mizzou hosts Georgia tonight at Mizzou Arena on ESPN2.

Mizzou Men’s Basketball (11-4, 1-1) continues at home for another exciting Southeastern Conference matchup at Mizzou Arena, as the Tigers host Georgia (11-3, 2-1) on Wednesday, Jan. 10, at 8 p.m. CT.

Most importantly,

Mizzou’s halftime entertainment will feature the world-renowned act known as Red Panda. Fans have to see it to believe it!

So that’s a reason to go no matter what. But the game itself should be pretty damn interesting. For starters, Georgia has Yante Maten.

That approach Wednesday will largely focus on Bulldogs senior Yante Maten, the 6-foot-8 forward whose physicality and grace creates a threat both down low and from behind the arc. He leads the team in points and minutes — averaging 20 and 32.7, respectively.

In Georgia’s 65-46 win over Alabama this past weekend, the senior put up 26 points — 12 of which came from 3-point range — and 11 rebounds.

To say the least, it would be lovely to have Jeremiah Tilmon on the court for more than eight minutes in this one.

Martin believes Wednesday’s game can give Tilmon a valuable visual aid, a matchup against a developed player who’s learned how to work the paint and beyond. Martin likened it to showdowns from his days in the Big Ten, when as a Purdue underclassman he traded blows with Ohio State’s Jim Jackson and Indiana’s Calbert Cheaney.

“That’s the beautiful thing about this game,” Martin said. “You can learn by going against guys.”

The Dawgs put the ball in the basket with offensive rebounds (Maten’s outstanding in that regard) and free throws, but they are a pretty bad shooting team and turn the ball over nearly as much as Mizzou. Their biggest strength resides on the defensive side of the ball:

  • 20th in Adj. defensive efficiency (per KenPom)
  • 11th in Effective FG%
  • 41st in FTA/FGA
  • 11th in 2PT%
  • 28th in 3PT% (and 120th in 3PA/FGA)

They limit you to bad shots without fouling. A nice strength to have. They’ve played three top-50 teams so far (and here’s where I get to remind you that Mizzou is a top-50 team now!) and have gone 2-2, beating No. 28 Saint Mary’s (83-81 in OT) and No. 38 Marquette (73-66) and losing to No. 23 Kentucky (66-61). Oh, and they lost to No. 51 SDSU (75-68) and whomped No. 52 Alabama the other day (65-46).

The biggest hope for Mizzou in this game might simply be that Jordan Barnett is smoking hot and could remain that way.

In the last 10 games, Barnett has put up numbers that are difficult to replicate even in a video game. He’s averaging 19.7 points, 7.4 rebounds, is shooting 51 percent from deep to pair with a 53 percent total field-goal percentage.

He has had three double-doubles and was one rebound away Saturday from picking up his fourth.

Barnett said he feels like he is getting more good looks this year. Part of that is because of the threat Missouri’s bigs pose in the post.

“Jontay” Porter “has been extremely good at finding me, not just myself but other players, too, to get me good shots. Having guys that demand that much attention opens things for our guards,” Barnett said. “We try to play inside-out, and, when we do this, we are at our best.”

Big game ahead.

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