The Missouri Tigers hit the road still looking for their first true road win of the season on Saturday. This time, Missouri goes to Boulder, CO to take on the Buffaloes, who are a much improved team in their first year under Jeff Bzdelik. PowerMizzou.com breaks down the matchup.
Stefhon Hannah has been up and down this season. He was phenomenal against Texas with 15 points, six rebounds and six assists. But against Iowa State, Hannah scored just eight in the first 39 minutes of the game and had a back-breaking turnover with 32 seconds to go. He scored a game-high 23 against Kansas, but took a ton of shots to do it. Jason Horton started conference play very strong, but has been very little threat offensively in the last couple of games. He hit two huge shots to briefly bring the Tigers to within three late against Kansas, but has not done much scoring. On the Buffs' side, they have the highest-scoring guard in this one. At one time, Richard Roby considered leaving for the NBA after his sophomore season. After a very, very tough junior year, Roby is back to averaging 16.9 points and nearly seven rebounds a game. He is probably the best individual player in this game. Senior Marcus Hall (11.9 ppg) and freshman Cory Higgins (8.4) give the Buffs nice balance in the backcourt
DeMarre Carroll is Missouri's leading scorer. But even Carroll has been up and down. He was great in Ames, terrible against Kansas and then solid before fouling out against Texas Tech. Carroll is the most capable player of becoming Mizzou's go-to guy, but his shot selection simply has to improve. Matt Lawrence continues to draw the starting nod at small forward, though indications are that could change in Boulder today. When Lawrence is on, he is one of the country's best shooters, but that hasn't happened nearly enough for the Tigers so far this season. Simply put, he has to find his stroke and find it fast or Missouri is in a lot of trouble. Vaidotas Volkus is coming off back to back starts and has played well, though his minutes have still been limited. CU's Xavier Silas had a very good freshman season and has been solid as a sophomore, averaging just over ten points per game. Marcus King-Stockton is the only Buff in the lineup bigger than 6-foot-6. He can give the Tigers some trouble down low. But outside of Stockton, Missouri has a size advantage. If Carroll can get any sort of help down low, Mizzou could have a strong showing in the paint for the second straight game.
To put it bluntly, this will ride completely on Leo Lyons. In the last two road games, Lyons has a combined eight points. Missouri can't beat anybody in the Big 12 like that. If Lyons decides to show up again, he can step in alongside Carroll and the Tigers should control the paint. If not, Carroll will once again be a one-man show. Keon Lawrence had probably his best half as a Tiger in the second half in Lubbock. The last time he played well (against Texas), he followed it up with two clunkers. Can Keon find some consistency? Big question. Freshman Justin Safford looks to be earning some more time and the team was better at Tech with him on the floor. Freshman Levi Knutson is the only Buff off the bench averaging more than five points. Jermyl Jackson-Wilson can provide some experience, but otherwise, the Colorado bench is largely an unknown commodity with all the turnover in the program. CU is not that deep and if the Tigers can speed the game up and get it played at their pace, it should be a major advantage for Mizzou.
Missouri Keys to the Game
The Tigers have to get the game sped up. CU wants to slow it down like Iowa State. Missouri needs to force the Buffs to play their pace. Next, somebody, anybody, has to make some outside shots. Missouri has been shooting cold since beating Texas. Someone needs to step up offensively. Finally, the Tigers have to show up for tip off. The last couple of road games, Missouri has been down eight by the first timeout. Tip time is 3 o'clock.
Colorado Keys to the Game
Conversely, the Buffs want to get this in a half-court game. A game in the 60's really favors Colorado. Next, CU needs to get Roby going. If he's hot from outside, it opens up a whole different game for the Buffalo offense. Finally, CU needs to pound the offensive glass. Missouri has been a terrible rebounding team much of the season. If Colorado can get some second-chance garbage points, it makes a win much easier.
The Wild Card
This time, we're going with a matchup. It is King-Stockton versus Lyons. If Missouri can get King-Stockton in foul trouble, Colorado becomes one of the smallest teams you will see. However, that cannot happen if Lyons continues his recent slump. Lyons is a nightmare matchup for just about any big man. He needs to play well and exploit that matchup. If King-Stockton can control the paint against Volkus, Darryl Butterfield and the rest, Roby can get hot from outside and Missouri is in for a long afternoon.