Tempo proving key to Tigers' basketball success
The Tigers' frenetic pace bewilders opponents.
Jan. 29, 2009
Whether it's in television commercials, media notes or a press conference, the Missouri athletic department is quick to hype the MU men's basketball team as the "fastest 40 minutes in basketball."
Senior forward DeMarre Carroll has a better word for it: chaos.
The "organized chaos," as coach Mike Anderson calls it, features full-court pressure, active hands in passing lanes and quick shots at the offensive end.
When the chaos is in full order, Missouri has been able to blitz Big 12 opponents into submission. The Tigers rode the style to a four-game conference winning streak in January, the program's first such streak since the 2004-05 season.
Missouri's run-and-gun, high tempo style of basketball has resulted in a total of 1,553 offensive possessions this season. Following Wednesday's loss to Kansas State, Missouri ranked No. 11 nationally and first in the Big 12 in total possessions. But when the Tigers' opponents have been able to slow the pace, Missouri fans have fought through 40 minutes of basketball that's more frustrating than fast.
As a counter to Missouri's frenetic pace, several opponents have opted to extend their offensive possessions deep into the shot clock, effectively playing "keep away" from the Tiger offense.
In Missouri's 17 wins, the Tigers have averaged 75.5 possessions per game. In Missouri's four losses, the Tigers have been slowed to 67 possessions per game.
The tactic worked in Missouri's conference opener against Nebraska on Jan. 10. The Cornhuskers limited Missouri to 60 possessions en route to a 56-51 win against the Tigers. Missouri's 51-point output against Nebraska remains its lowest point total of the season.
On Wednesday, the Tigers had a bit of their own style thrown back in their faces in an 88-72 loss to Kansas State. Kansas State relentlessly counterpunched Missouri with ease, draining 12 of 22 shots from three-point range and keeping Missouri off balance all night.
The rout was a far cry from the Missouri machine on display in a 97-86 win against Texas Tech last Saturday. Missouri flew out of the gate against Texas Tech, harassing the Red Raiders into a season high of 29 turnovers, resulting in 35 Missouri points.
By contrast, Texas Tech forced 14 steals for a total of 15 points. Missouri's defensive effort included a career-high seven steals from senior guard J.T. Tiller, one shy of tying the school record.
Missouri also outran Texas Tech, outnumbering the Red Raiders in fast break points, 16-8.
"At the end of the game, it looked like they were starting to get tired," freshman guard Marcus Denmon said. "We do it every day in practice."