Missouri Tigers Basketball: Tigers Look to Move Past Inconsisent Week

Robert GivensContributor IFebruary 9, 2010

COLUMBIA, MISSOURI - FEBRUARY 14:  Justin Safford #23 of the Missouri Tigers looks on against the Nebraska Huskers during the game on February 14, 2009 at Mizzou Arena in Columbia, Missouri. (Photo by: Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images


Ten minutes and forty-five seconds.

In that short time span, one could do any number of activities. Brush up on the latest news. Play a quick game of FIFA. Get in a day's cardio with a mile and a half jog. Have the 11th ranked scoring offense in Division I basketball score a basket. Save 15 percent on your car insurance by switching to Geico.

Wait, that last one would take 15 minutes.

And last Wednesday, that second-to-last wouldn't come true either.

It took seven minutes and forty-five seconds for Marcus Denmon to follow his three pointer at 12:45 left in the game with a free throw at the five minute mark. It would be another three minutes until J.T. Tiller made a field goal.

By that time, the Tigers saw their 55-46 lead at 12:45 evaporate into a 66-60 deficit. Despite the scoring drought, MU still had a chance to tie the game, but a last second three pointer by Tiller clanged off the rim for one of his seven misses on the night.

Slightly less disturbing than the Tigers finish to the game was their start. The first two minutes saw Mizzou go 0-4 from the field while Texas A&M built a 7-0 lead, all the while showing the Tigers how to play their own "Fastest Forty Minutes." In both the start and finish, A&M easily rebounded Missouri's ill-advised shots and translated them into easy fast break layups and high percentage shots.

The missed shots aren't so much a concern in Columbia, but rather the shot selection. After all, Mizzou shot a modest 42 percent last Wednesday, only slightly below their 45 percent season average.

But, the way the Tigers have shot the ball lately, you'd think Mizzou shooters have never seen a better shot than the one they are looking at. Shooters are often firing after one pass and with no one underneath to at least contest for a rebound and slow down the opposition's break.

I'm not going to sit in my nosebleeds at Mizzou Arena and expect Keith Ramsey and Justin Safford to put up huge offensive rebounding numbers. But, it is not out of the question to request—no, at this point in the season—demand some patience from the Missouri guards. Shooting a three with bodies underneath to contest is far different then shooting a three with three opposing jerseys underneath and no white shirts to be found.

We've already seen what this leads to. Allowing the likes of Cole Aldrich to cleanly rebound a miss and whip a quick outlet pass to Sherron Collins spells disaster for Missouri. However, if the lanky Ramsey or Laurence Bowers are underneath to at least put a hand in Aldrich's face and slow down this transition, albeit for a second, Mizzou will stop getting schooled at their own game.

Because after Wednesday, it's now just embarrassing.

I probably speak for a good majority of Tiger fans when I say that I could understand how Kansas could do that to us. But, Texas A&M as well?

While no doubt talented, the guards of Texas A&M do not possess the quickness and athleticism as those of Kansas and I would even say Missouri. Additionally, A&M forwards Bryan Davis and David Loubeau (6'9'', 240; 6'9'', 215) do not pose significant matchup problems with Mizzou bigs. But, somehow they outrebounded Mizzou 41-24, including a one rebound performance from each of the starting forwards Ramsey and Safford.

As pathetic as last Wednesday was, Saturday's performance against Colorado prevented fans in Columbia from pulling the emergency switch (or the trigger for a certain Mike O'Daniel). In route to an 84-66 victory, the Tigers avoided a letdown against the Buffaloes who had recently taken No.1 ranked Kansas to overtime, before losing 72-66.

In that game, MU shot 81 percent from the foul line, 44 percent from behind the arc and 49 percent from the field, all well above season averages. More encouraging, the Tigers dished out 20 assists, their highest total since facing Georgia more than a month ago. This generosity shows patience on offense. For the Tigers to be successful, they need to start resembling the Salvation Army instead of the IRS.

With Iowa State coming to Mizzou Arena Wednesday, the Tigers have a chance to do several things.

First off, they have a chance to simply start a new home win streak. Not to mention, they also have a chance to re-establish their "Fastest Forty Minutes" brand of basketball.  Furthermore, they have a chance to wear down the Iowa State guards and allow our guards to find their own shots instead of forcing them

Iowa State plays three guards. If Michael Dixon, Marcus Denmon, J.T. Tiller, Zaire Taylor and Kimmie English can't take advantage of this slim opposition, well I'm just going to snap.

Coach Mike Anderson did not hesitate to call out the Mizzou bigs after the A&M game. And while Craig Brackens and Marquis Gilstrap pose a problem on the boards (they combine for 17 rebounds a game), MU's frontcourt has the chance to avenge a straight-up embarrassing performance.

But, if they can not grasp this opportunity then be prepared to occupy yourself for a lot longer than 10:45.