January 1, 2014

Tigers finding a way late

Missouri's 2012-13 basketball team was expected to compete for the Southeastern Conference title. The Tigers finished 11-7 in the league and were seeded sixth in the SEC Tournament. This year, the Tigers were slotted fifth by those that cover the league. However, Mizzou was the last league team to lose a game and stands 11-1 with one non-conference game to go.

On the surface, the numbers look pretty much identical. The only real difference is the win over UCLA this year, which was a game Missouri should have won last year, but did not.

However, Mizzou's defensive statistics were bolstered last year by two games in which they gave up a combined 89 points to Tennessee State and South Carolina State (teams that combined to finish the year 24-39). Take out those two games and the points per game average jumps to 68. This season, Missouri has not held anyone below 53 points, but also has not allowed more than 80. I'm not yet positive that the defense is better, but it does seem to be a bit more consistent.

But the major difference I've seen in the two teams has come in the final 60 seconds and it has shown up in the last two games.

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