No. 13 Missouri (15-3) will host Iowa State (14-5) Saturday night in the second consecutive home contest for the Tigers as they come off a commanding win over Kansas State on Monday.
The win over the Wildcats put the Tigers at 2-2 in conference play as they near the meat of their Big 12 schedule.
The unranked Cyclones come into Columbia after a tough loss at Oklahoma State on Wednesday. Though they have tallied a 1-3 record in Big 12 play thus far, they have performed well considering their coaching change over the summer.
Junior forward Laurence Bowers refuses to take them lightly.
“I think they’re underrated,” Bowers said. “For them to go through a lot like they did this summer, it just shows they’re a tough team and tough-minded.”
Iowa State alumnus and NBA-veteran Fred Hoiberg took the reins after the departure of former coach Greg McDermott. Hoiberg earned his first conference win as a Big 12 coach when his boys beat Baylor last Saturday.
Coach Mike Anderson has never seen a deeper Big 12 conference in his time in the league.
“There is quality no matter where you go,” Anderson said. “I think the league is the most competitive it’s been since I’ve been in it, and I’m talking about from top to bottom.”
Of all the teams in the league, Iowa State’s style of play may be the most similar to Missouri’s attack. The Cyclones fast-paced game and 3 point shooting are a few things that the teams share.
Senior forward Jamie Vanderbeken drained a career-high seven three-pointers in the win over Baylor last weekend and then hit from deep six times in the following game at Oklahoma State.
The cyclones boast a few more long ball shooters on their starting lineup. Junior guard Scott Christopherson averages over three three-pointers per game along with Vanderbeken.
Anderson likens their jump shot and fast break style of play to his own game plan.
“They have some guys that can really shoot the basketball,” Anderson said. “And it seems like they’re playing at a faster pace and scoring more points than they have in previous years.”
The Cyclones shot 33 times from deep in their last game, making up nearly half of their field goals. Sophomore guard Michael Dixon knows that is not uncommon for Iowa State and is prepared to guard multiple perimeter threats.
“We like to get up on guys and get really close to them,” Dixon said. “Phil can guard and I can guard. We have to get out and pressure everybody on the perimeter.”
Although they share a few qualities, one area where the teams differ greatly is bench play. Iowa State plays with seven or eight players each night while Missouri boasts nine or 10 potential starters and always wins in bench points.
The Missouri men’s basketball program is nearing a regular-season sellout. Anderson attributes the multiple sellouts this season to the dedication of students.
“I think the big key is our students,” Anderson said. “Our staff has reached out to them and our students have really responded. That has a trickle effect throughout the whole arena.”
Tip-off inside Mizzou Arena is scheduled for 8 p.m.