Cuonzo Martin’s teams play an extremely physical style of Basketball, if you cannot match or exceed the physicality, expect to lose.
It is all about physicality in this matchup between Georgia and Missouri. Throw out records and past games played, which team is going to play with greater physicality. The team that goes after the loose ball, makes first contact on rebounds, plays through contact, and does not compromise their defensive positioning will win this game. One team could shoot really well from three point range and it would not matter one bit because the physical aspect of the game will ultimately win out. 30-40% shots attempted and possibly 30-50% of the scoring output will not matter compared to what else matters in this game.
A Look at the Missouri Tigers
Missouri has a 9-10 record (1-5 in the SEC), they have lost four straight games and six of their last seven games. Missouri has been scuffling and dealing with trying to win without Jeremiah Tilmon at Center, who is out with a foot injury. Missouri Head Coach Cuonzo Martin has strangely played more zone defense than he ever imagined in his career this season (the 2-3 Zone variety), but his calling card is physical man-to-man defense. Cuonzo Martin’s offenses will never impress, but his teams will play tough defense.
What can Missouri do well?
- Missouri can force turnovers. They force opponents to a 22.6% turnover rate, which is 34th in the country.
- Missouri defends the restricted arc very well. They force opponents to a 55.6% Field Goal rate and only allow opponents to take 30.3% of their shots there.
- Missouri’s opponents shoot the three point shot as well as Tyree Crump this season. Opponents are 29.8% from the three point arc.
What does Missouri do poorly?
- Missouri commits turnovers frequently. They commit a 21.4% turnover rate, which is 300th in the country.
- Missouri can’t stop fouling. They allow opponents to have a 40% Free Throw Rate, which is 304th in the country.
- Missouri cannot shoot from the perimeter. They are 30.5% from three point range, which is 292nd in the country. They take a lot of three point shots as well. 42% of their shots are from three point range.
Missouri Players to Watch
Missouri is without Jeremiah Tilmon and this forces them to be more dependent on Mitchell Smith and Reed Nikko in the interior.
Dru Smith plays the Breein Tyree sort of a role for this Missouri team. He does not shoot three point shots much, but he does the following and it makes him the most important player to stop.
- He is the key distributor on the team.
- He is frequent visitor to the Free Throw Line.
- He attacks off the dribble.
- He is a defensive pest forcing turnovers.
- He is a good rebounder for his position.
Holding Smith down as a scorer has its benefits. When he has less than 8 points, Missouri is 0-4. Letting him score also has benefits, Missouri is 2-4 when Smith has 18 or more points.
Pinson is an impactful player and it is not always a good thing. Pinson is both a distributor and turnover sink. He has come along lately as an on-ball defender, but he has been foul prone.
Pinson is not a strong finisher at the rim and he struggles with his three point shooting. However, if he can get himself to the Free Throw Line from his dribble drives, he will make 80.4% of his shots.
Brown has a local connection to the State of Georgia, he played for Game Elite Gold in AAU action. His choice of Missouri was actually a good fit and it is starting to show.
Brown has been able to attack the passing lanes on defense and be disruptive to opponent ball movement. He is a strong offensive rebounder and he is able to score in the interior.
What to Expect
Missouri’s physicality and ability to keep opponents from getting to the rim will be the difference in this game. Georgia is not going to be able to match Missouri’s physicality at Mizzou Arena, this is not something that is fixed after a few practices. The blocked shots from past opponents have carried over into situations where shot blockers are not present for Georgia. The spooks continue for the Dawgs against a Missouri team looking to get a win that will put them on the right path.
The necessary breakouts from Christian Brown and Rodney Howard have not come yet, they may come in February, but it is still too early to expect them to finally have big games and set the stage for them to do more. A late season resurgence should be expected to set up an offseason where weaknesses are addressed. However, lumps are going to be taken in Columbia. Dru Smith and Kobe Brown should have strong nights to push Missouri forward.
Prediction: Missouri 64 Georgia 49