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Friday, October 31, 2014

Preview: Tough weekend forecast for struggling Tigers

The Tigers are coming off a conference road loss to the Oklahoma State Cowboys.

Former Missouri basketball player Zaire Taylor passes the ball around Kansas guard Xavier Henry during the Tigers' last matchup with the rival Jayhawks on March 6, 2010, at Mizzou Arena. The Tigers will play at Kansas on Monday.

Grant Hindsley/Senior Staff Photographer
Ashley Lane/Graphic Designer

A blizzard of historic proportions hit Columbia this week, resulting in the first snow days in years for the school. Today, as students return to class after three consecutive days off, the men’s basketball team returns home from a disappointing road trip. But, for the players, the storm is far from over.

The Tigers are on a two-game slide after dropping a pair of road games in the past week. Missouri couldn’t keep up with Texas last Saturday and were then upset by Oklahoma State on Wednesday. It’s the first time the Tigers have lost back-to-back games all season.

The boys have no time for mourning, however, as they will return to action this Saturday. No. 14 Missouri will host Colorado at home before traveling to Kansas for the ESPN Big Monday Matchup. The long weekend will make it four games in just 10 days for the Tigers.

Missouri will take on a Colorado team that beat them in Boulder to open up conference play in early January. The Buffaloes boast a 4-4 Big 12 record that bests the Tigers’ 3-4 mark in conference.

Colorado comes off a blowout win over Iowa State that got them back on track after a four-game losing streak. Sophomore guard Alec Burks is second in the Big 12 in scoring with 19.8 points per game. Senior guard Cory Higgins rounds out the Buffalo backcourt with 16.2 points per game.

The future Pac-10ers may be one team Missouri can out-rebound and control in the paint. But stopping their prolific guards will be the key for the Tiger defense in this one.

Kansas brings even more to the table for Monday’s matchup. After hosting Colorado, the Tigers will hit the open road again for a rivalry game at Allen Fieldhouse. Kansas is 21-1 overall this year and 6-1 in conference play.

Two weeks ago, the Jayhawks lost their first home game in four years to Texas. Since then, they’ve won two road games and spanked Kansas State in their next home game. Kansas will look to make it four in a row at Nebraska this Saturday before returning home to play Missouri.

Kansas is led by junior forward twins Marcus and Markieff Morris. Marcus leads the team in scoring with 16.8 points per game while his brother Markieff leads all Jayhawks with 8.8 rebounds per game.

The Tigers have to stop the twins, or at least force some bad shots, if they want to have a chance in this road challenge. Kansas leads the nation in shooting with a 52-percent field goal accuracy. Missouri will need to use their smothering defensive style to bring that mark down and keep this one close.

The nation’s top shooting percentage yields 82.7 points per game for the Jayhawks, making them second in scoring in the Big 12. The Tigers rank first at 83.1 points per game, coming in at 7th in the country. These next two games should be high-scoring affairs, as Colorado sits at third in scoring in the Big 12 behind Missouri and Kansas.

Tip-off with Colorado is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Saturday inside Mizzou Arena. The Monday game at Kansas is set for 8 p.m.

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