When Missouri traveled to Oxford to face Ole Miss less than two weeks ago, the Tigers sat at No. 10 in the country and second in the SEC standings. The Rebels proceeded to shoot nearly 57 percent from the floor and cruise to an 80-59 win that left head coach Cuonzo Martin questioning his team’s effort. It started a three-game losing streak for Missouri.
Now that the Tigers have ended their skid with a win at South Carolina on Saturday, they will try to avenge their worst loss of the season when Ole Miss comes to Columbia on Tuesday night. Here’s everything you need to know to get set for the game.
TIP TIME INFORMATION
Missouri (14-6) vs Mississippi (12-9)
WHEN: 8:00 p.m.
WHERE: Mizzou Arena
TV: SEC Network
RADIO: Tiger Radio Network (Mike Kelly, Chris Gervino)
SERIES: Ole Miss leads 14-3
KenPom Prediction: Missouri 69-65
THE STARTING LINEUPS
Ole Miss Probable Starters
Mizzou Probable Starters
BY THE NUMBERS
MIZZOU KEYS TO THE GAME
1. Tighten up the defense. Two weeks ago, Ole Miss pretty much scored the ball at will against Missouri. The Rebels made 29 of 51 field goals (despite missing five of their final six when the game was well in hand) and scored 1.31 points per possession — the highest mark the Tigers have allowed all season. Three Ole Miss players scored at least 15 points. Missouri will need to be better on the defensive end this time around. Assistant coach Marco Harris, who spoke with reporters Monday morning to preview the matchup, said the team’s issues in the first matchup largely boiled down to poor one-on-one defense, either in stopping drivers or staying with players away from the ball. Twenty-one of Ole Miss’ 29 made shots resulted from an assist. If Missouri can do a better job of containing Devontae Shuler, who had 15 points and three assists, it would go a long way toward slowing down the whole Ole Miss offense. Shuler scored just four points in Mississippi State’s upset win over the Rebels on Saturday.
2. Be better on the boards. After the last loss to Ole Miss, Martin and his players pointed to the rebounding numbers as proof that Missouri didn’t play with enough effort. The Rebels out-rebounded the Tigers 34-19, including a nine to five edge on the offensive glass. Part of that had to do with Missouri’s defensive shortcomings, and the Rebels have been a solid rebounding team all season, particularly on the offensive end of the floor. But still, a program that prides itself on rebounding should never get beat that badly in the category.
3. Get more out of Pinson and Tilmon. Missouri has three players whose collective performance generally determines how the team is going to fare in a given game: Dru Smith, Jeremiah Tilmon and Xavier Pinson. Smith was solid, as usual, the last time Missouri played Ole Miss. But Tilmon and Pinson struggled mightily, and the Tigers couldn’t overcome that. Pinson scored six points on 3-11 shooting and committed four turnovers in 24 minutes. Tilmon (who we later learned found out about the death of his grandmother, which prompted his two-game leave of absence) scored six points and had three turnovers and didn’t attempt a shot in the second half. Tilmon and Pinson are Missouri’s two most dynamic players, each capable of bringing something that simply can’t be found elsewhere on the roster. When they’re both playing well, the Tigers are tough to beat. When neither plays well, like in Oxford, the team is liable to get blown out.
This is a tricky game to forecast. On one hand, the gulf between Ole Miss and Missouri looked massive just two weeks ago. Then again, the only other time this season the Tigers have had an opportunity to avenge a 20-point loss, they played one of their best games of the season, winning at Tennessee. Missouri looked like a different team with Tilmon present and playing well Saturday, but it’s also hard to put too much stock in a win over South Carolina, and even though Ole Miss lost this weekend, they’ve been trending up the past few weeks. We think this will be a fairly even fight, but we’ll give the Tigers the edge on their home floor.
FINAL SCORE: Missouri 68, Ole Miss 66