Preview: Turnovers a key factor in rematch with Texas A&M

Missouri plays Texas A&M at 5 p.m. on Saturday.
Missouri point guard Xavier Pinson.

After a loss on Tuesday at No. 1 Tennessee, Missouri (11-10, 2-7 SEC) travels back to Columbia to take on Texas A&M (8-13, 1-8 SEC) Saturday.

After suffering a season sweep against the Volunteers, Missouri looks for a sweep of its own against the Aggies after a 66-43 blowout win in January.

Texas A&M is led by the sophomore duo of stretch forward Savion Flagg and guard T.J. Starks. Starks leads the team in scoring with 12.5 points per game while Flagg leads the team in rebounds with 7.6 boards per game. The team has continued to struggle, with an upset 65-53 win over Big-12 leading Kansas State as the team’s only win in its last four games.

Texas A&M has gotten a lift from junior guard Wendell Mitchell, who is averaging 14.9 points per game in an expanded role during conference play.

“He can score the ball,” Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin said. “He’s very comfortable with the ball, making plays and making decisions. He’s flourishing in that role now.”

Missouri will have to contain Mitchell to get a needed win over another conference cellar-dweller.

Missouri was aided by 13 points from sophomore guard Mark Smith in January’s matchup, but Smith rolled his ankle in the next game against Arkansas and hasn’t played since. Smith also didn’t practice this week, according to Martin, and could miss his fifth-straight game.

Sophomore forward Jeremiah Tilmon also came out of the game against Tennessee with a knee injury, but he later returned and Martin said Tilmon is set to play Saturday.

The freshman trio of guards Xavier Pinson, Javon Pickett and Torrence Watson will each have the responsibility of picking up offensive slack in this matchup.

Watson and Pinson have seen an increase in minutes over the last few games, with Pinson playing a career-high 32 minutes against Tennessee on Thursday.

Pinson’s playing time has corresponded with a reduction in the number of turnovers for the Tigers. Missouri tied its season-low of nine turnovers in each of its last two games, and Pinson started in both. If Missouri can keep control of the ball, it can get extra possessions against a Texas A&M team that turns it over 14.2 times a game.

The lack of turnovers has helped Missouri stay in games over the last week. The Tigers’ 12-point loss to Tennessee on Tuesday was an improvement over it’s 87-63 loss in early January.

“When you have enough you can be bad and still win the game,” Martin said. “We can’t afford to be bad in certain areas right now. We can’t give up fast break points, we can’t turn the ball over 15 times and expect to win games.”

Missouri tips off against Texas A&M at 5 p.m. on Saturday at Mizzou Arena.

Edited by Adam Cole | acole@themaneater.com

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