Missouri Basketball: No Michael Dixon, No Shot at SEC and March Madness Glory
Just one day removed from the news that Michael Dixon Jr. will transfer from the University of Missouri after a second rape allegation surfaced via the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, many Mizzou fans are trying their best to look at the good that can come from the situation.
As the No. 16 Tigers prepare to host Appalachian State on Saturday at Mizzou Arena, many Tigers fans feel that coach Frank Haith's team can finally move forward from the situation.
Some feel that having Michael Dixon around served as an unnecessary distraction, and now the team can focus on basketball.
The opinion, in general terms and on the surface, would be correct in many cases.
In the instance of this article, it simply does not apply.
Losing Michael Dixon for good hurts this Mizzou team drastically and actually makes it difficult to fathom the Tigers as true contenders in the SEC or the NCAA tournament this season.
Dixon is a weapon on both ends of the floor, and without his services, Missouri should no longer be considered a threat to challenge Kentucky or Florida in the SEC.
Through Mizzou's first six games without Dixon, Mizzou has averaged 75.8 points per game, good for 65th in the country, which is certainly respectable.
The problem has been Mizzou's proficiency at the offensive end. The Tigers are not sharing the ball and are stagnant on offense. They are averaging just 13.2 assists per game, which is just 171st in the nation.
Can Mizzou still compete for SEC crown without Michael Dixon?
When Mizzou is able to create shots, the Tigers are shooting at just 43 percent, which is 191st in the country. Additionally, Mizzou is shooting at just 37.9 percent from behind the arc and turning the ball over an alarming 13.6 times per game.
Dixon could have helped solve all of these problems.
Dixon averaged 13.5 points and 3.3 assists per game last season while coming off the bench in every one of Missouri's 35 games.
The guard from Kansas City is an explosive scorer and playmaker who constantly puts pressure on the opposing defense with his ability to penetrate and score from the outside in bunches. Dixon is a capable substitute at point guard as well, and his quickness would have allowed the Tigers to get more easy baskets via the fast break.
Dixon would have been the perfect sidekick for SEC Preseason Player of the Year Phil Pressey. The duo could have wreaked havoc on the SEC in Mizzou's first season in the conference.
Instead, Pressey will be left on his own to make things happen while Dixon finds a new place to play.
Thus far, Pressey has been unable to carry the Mizzou offense on his own, as evidenced by their poor offensive statistics. Mizzou's offensive deficiency was particularly clear in its lone loss to Louisville, whose zone defense caused Haith's Tigers to be unorganized throughout the majority of the game.
Not only would Dixon have helped organize the Mizzou offense, he would have helped create chaos defensively as well.
Dixon is ball-hawking defender who pestered the opposition during his three years in a Mizzou uniform. His persistence and intensity helped the Tigers create turnovers and opportunities.
Without Dixon this season, Mizzou's defense has looked lackluster on occasion. The Tigers rarely pressure the ball in the half court like they did last season, and much of that has to do with the absence of Dixon. Unless players like senior guard Keion Bell and freshman Negus Webster-Chan step up their games drastically, the void left by the departure of Dixon may be too much for the Tigers to overcome.
Sure, Mizzou certainly is still capable of putting together a nice season. The addition of sophomore transfer Jabari Brown will help replace Dixon, too. But replacing Dixon will not be easy. The guard did so much for Mizzou on both ends of the floor.
Mizzou fans anticipating a Final Four appearance or an SEC Championship need to pull back the throttle. To achieve such lofty and ambitious goals, this team will need to overcome a lot of obstacles and shortcomings now that Dixon will not be around.
It could be done. Haith might be able to lead the Tigers and help this bunch persevere.
A better bet, though, would be that any dreams of March Madness glory were permanently smashed when it was announced that Dixon will be gone for good.
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