Missouri (6-1) will host Vanderbilt (7-1) at 8 p.m. Wednesday as the Tigers come off a busy two-week stretch in which they played seven games in 14 days.
The majority of those games, including a trip to Oregon that will be their farthest of the season, were on the road. Wednesday’s game will be the first of four straight at home.
Sophomore guard Michael Dixon knows how much comfort some time at home can bring.
“It’s always good to be at home in the confines of somewhere comfortable,” Dixon said. “It’s pretty heartwarming and we just have to take these few practices into the game.”
Comfort has been hard to come by for Dixon recently, as he has been put in some high-pressure, late-game situations in the past two games. Dixon was put on the free throw line in the final minute of both the Georgetown and Oregon games.
The Tigers suffered a close loss to the Commodores last season at the hands of now-graduated center A.J. Ogilvy. Junior guard and leading scorer Marcus Denmon knows that this is a new Vanderbilt team, and it’s time for some payback.
“They lost a lot of guys that they had last year,” Denmon said. “They had some good leadership. But that was at their place, so we want to try to force our will on them at our place.”
It has been out with the old and in with the new for the Commodores, as some rising stars have filled the shoes of players like Ogilvy. Junior guard and NBA-prospect Jeffery Taylor has led their front court while junior center Festus Ezeli has dominated the inside.
Dixon called Vanderbilt’s new rebound leader a bigger, more athletic Ogilvy and knows this new team has many weapons.
“It’s going to be tough,” Dixon said. “They’re a good, solid team. I don’t think they’re going to be intimidated coming in here, but we’re going to try and make them intimidated.”
Junior forward Laurence Bowers is one of the rebound leaders for Missouri and knows how this Vanderbilt team can get on the glass.
“They have great size and they have a lot of athletes,” Bowers said. “A lot of guys that crash the boards. We have to play with a higher level of intensity and hit the glass really hard.”
The Tigers have struggled in that category to start the season, coming in at 165th in rebounding nationally.
Missouri might not need to crash the boards, if they keep shooting like they have been. The Tigers have five players averaging in double figures in points, and are shooting 55 percent in their last three games.
More important than the top scores and starters, have been the Tigers bench players. Missouri has averaged more than 30 points per game from its reserves this year.
This will be Missouri’s third consecutive foe from the “Power Conference,” but it will be the first time in 52 years since it has hosted Vanderbilt.
Tip-off is set for 8 p.m. Wednesday inside Mizzou Arena. Coach Mike Anderson will look to stay undefeated in non-conference home games, as he is 43-0 all-time in such contests.