Keys to success for Missouri men’s basketball against Ole Miss

How the Tigers can snap their six-game losing streak Wednesday.
Missouri Tiger forward Jakeenan Gant (23) goes up for a layup during the basketball game against Mississippi State on Jan 30 in Mizzou Arena.

The Missouri men’s basketball team faces Ole Miss (13-8, 3-5 SEC) in the final game of its two-game home stretch on Wednesday night at Mizzou Arena. The Tigers (8-13, 1-7 SEC) are also looking to put a end to their current six-game losing streak.

The game will tip off at 8 p.m. and can be viewed on the SEC Network. Missouri is currently sitting in last place in the Southeastern Conference and needs one more win to match its win total last season.

These are the three things Missouri must do to break its losing streak against the Rebels and climb back out of the basement in the SEC:

Perimeter Shooting: On Saturday night, it appeared that Missouri was doing its best to not make a single three-point shot.

The Tigers shot a dismal 8 percent on 25 attempts from beyond the arc against a Mississippi State defense that at times seemed okay with not even contesting shots from afar.

Much of the blame falls on Missouri’s guard play. Supposedly sharp shooting freshman guard Cullen VanLeer is only shooting 30 percent from deep on the season while his counterpart, sophomore guard Namon Wright, only hits 26.3 percent of his three point attempts.

Expect Ole Miss to employ the same strategy that their in-state rivals did against the Tigers on Wednesday night. Missouri will need to find their shooting stroke in order to stand a chance against the Rebels.

Start Fast: It feels like beating a dead horse but in the end, slow starts have been the downfall of the Tigers more often than not this season.

Missouri has now been outscored 222-155 in the first halves of their last six games. The Tigers have found themselves entering halftime down by double digits in each of their previous two games.

Coach Kim Anderson attributes the lackadaisical openings to the nerves his young players experience heading into the games.

“I think it’s confidence,” Anderson said. “It’s been a tough go. Our job as coaches is to get some confidence back in these guys.”

Missouri must keep pace with Ole Miss early on in the competition to leave Columbia with a win.

Stop Moody: Don’t let senior guard Stefan Moody’s size fool you. While Moody stands at only 5’10”, he is possibly the biggest threat in the SEC when he is on the court.

Moody enters Mizzou Arena as the SEC’s top scorer, averaging 23.6 points per game. He shoots 38.6 percent from three and also dishes out an average of 4.1 assists per game.

The SEC’s top scorer will be a tough task for whoever Missouri assigns to guard him. However, if the Tigers can limit Moody’s effectiveness, only one other Ole Miss player averages double figures in scoring.

Containing Moody will be Missouri’s top priority on defense. However, if they are able to succeed, Mizzou may be able to break their six-game skid.

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