The Missouri and Oklahoma men’s basketball teams have a lot in common. Both have lost two of their last three games since Feb. 2. Both have underachieved in Big 12 play leading to 4-5 conference records.
But this Saturday, the two programs will need to use their differences to their advantage. Missouri is second in conference in scoring while Oklahoma sits in dead last at 12th. For Oklahoma, its competitive advantage is that it has won a Big 12 road game, something Missouri still hasn’t done. The Sooners will look to get another in Columbia.
The No. 20 Missouri Tigers return to Mizzou Arena this Saturday to host the unranked and unproven Oklahoma Sooners. The Tigers are 18-6 overall and come off a good showing in a loss at Kansas. The Sooners are 12-11 and are on a two-game slide that includes losses at Oklahoma State and at home against Texas.
Neither team has had much to brag about since conference play began. The sub-.500 Big 12 records for both teams are a result of failures to grab substantial wins in conference thus far. Missouri’s best win has been over Kansas State, and Oklahoma brings a win over Colorado to the table.
The Sooners have just three players averaging in double figures this year, likely the reason why they are last in the Big 12 in scoring at 67.5 points per game.
Sophomore forward Andrew Fitzgerald leads the team in scoring and rebounding at 13.8 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. The Oklahoma backcourt rounds out the scoring with senior guard Cade Davis and sophomore guard Steven Pledger each averaging over 12 points.
That lack of depth could hurt the visitors when Missouri laces up five players who average double figures. The core group of Tiger juniors in forwards Ricardo Ratliffe and Laurence Bowers and guards Marcus Denmon and Kim English lead the team in scoring.
But it’s freshman guard Phil Pressey who has stepped up for the Tigers of late. After playing minimal minutes early in the season, the Dallas recruit has exploded recently and earned some solid floor time.
In Missouri’s past four games, the freshman has been first or second in minutes played. And it’s no wonder coach Mike Anderson leaves him on the floor: Pressey has averaged nearly 12 points in that span and led the Tigers in assists in all four games, as well as accumulating 10 steals over the recent stretch.
The spark plug point guard put up a season-high 17 points at Kansas on Monday, including back-to-back three-pointers to keep it close late. With sophomore guard Michael Dixon sharing the load in the backcourt, Missouri’s guards may prove too much for Oklahoma.
Although they have no trouble putting points on the board every night, one area the Tigers consistently struggle in is rebounding. Missouri hasn’t won the rebound battle in four games since their blowout win over Iowa State. But the Sooners have an even sadder track record on the glass, coming in twelfth in the Big 12 in rebounding as well.
Tipoff is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. Saturday. It will be the first of two at home for the Tigers as they will host Texas Tech on Tuesday.