basketball Edit

Tiger Tipoff Preview: Mizzou looks to avenge loss at Georgia in SEC Tourney

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The Missouri basketball team is back in Nashville for the SEC Tournament, where a year ago the Tigers saw their season — and the sports world as a whole — abruptly come to an end. The Tigers, the No. 7 seed in the league tournament, should be safely in the NCAA Tournament field but will look to boost their seeding with a few wins in Nashville. Thursday, the team will open the postseason in the same way it has each of the past three conference tournaments under Cuonzo Martin: against Georgia.

The 10th-seeded Bulldogs beat Missouri 80-70 in Athens on Feb. 16. The Tigers didn't have starting center Jeremiah Tilmon on the floor for that game, however. Here is everything you need to know to get set for the rematch.

Missouri will look to get Jeremiah Tilmon going against Georgia in the first round of the SEC Tournament on Thursday.
Missouri will look to get Jeremiah Tilmon going against Georgia in the first round of the SEC Tournament on Thursday. (Zach Bland/Mizzou Athletics)

                                         TIP TIME INFORMATION

Missouri (15-8) vs. Georgia (14-11)

WHEN: 6:00 p.m.

WHERE: Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, Tennessee

TV: SEC Network

RADIO: Tiger Radio Network (Mike Kelly, Chris Gervino)

SERIES: Tied 8-8

KenPom Prediction: Missouri 79-74

                                       THE STARTING LINEUPS

Georgia Probable Starters
Player Class Height PPG RPG APG

Sahvir Wheeler

SO

5-10

14.0

3.9

7.2

Justin Kier

SR

6-4

9.5

3.8

2.5

Toumani Camara

SO

6-8

12.8

7.6

1.8

Tye Fagan

JR

6-3

9.3

4.4

1.2

P.J. Horne

SR

6-6

8.6

3.5

0.5

Mizzou Probable Starters
Player Class Height PPG RPG APG

Dru Smith

SR

6-3

14.1

3.4

3.9

Mark Smith

SR

6-5

10.0

3.0

1.1

Xavier Pinson

JR

6-3

14.0

2.7

2.7

Jeremiah Tilmon

SR

6-10

12.5

7.4

0.8

Kobe Brown

SO

6-7

7.8

6.0

0.7

                                                  BY THE NUMBERS

Statistical Matchup
Mizzou Category Georgia

74.1

PPG

77.8

72.1

PPG Allowed

78.2

45.1

Field Goal %

45.8

31.9

Three-Point %

31.8

+0.3

Rebound Margin

+1.2

13.2

Turnovers

16.8

38

Offensive Efficiency Rank

79

62

Defensive Efficiency Rank

116

162

Tempo

13

17

Strength of Schedule

51

                                        MIZZOU KEYS TO THE GAME

1. Feed the big men. Even though Tilmon didn't play in Athens, Missouri feasted around the basket against Georgia's undersized frontcourt. Kobe Brown scored a career-high 21 points and 38 of Missouri's 70 points as a team came in the paint. The Tigers got into trouble in the second half when they stopped feeding the ball down low. With Tilmon on the floor Thursday, look for the Tigers to get the ball inside early and often to both him and Brown. Georgia ranks No. 288 nationally in block rate and No. 293 in two-point defense, so this is not the game to hoist a bunch of shots from beyond the arc. Tilmon could use a big game, too, after struggling a bit the past two games. He fouled out against Florida for just the second time this season and scored just six points against an LSU defense that sent constant double- and triple-teams at him.

2. Don't get sped up. Missouri led by as many as 13 points early in the second half of the first meeting between these two teams, but the tide started to turn when Georgia applied some pressure and the Tiger offense got sloppy. Missouri turned the ball over 11 times during the final 20 minutes. They also settled for too many quick shots, attempting 11 three-pointers and making just three after halftime. With Georgia giving up an even more substantial size advantage this time around, look for the Bulldogs, who rank 13th nationally in tempo this season, to play as fast as possible Thursday. Missouri has proven capable of matching or even exceeding the pace of opponents who like to play fast this season, but the top priority against Georgia needs to be taking care of the ball rather than beating the Bulldogs down the floor.

3. Stay in front of Sahvir Wheeler. Georgia's earlier win over Missouri this season came thanks to a balanced scoring attack. Five Bulldog players scored in double-figures and another finished the game with nine points. That's fairly unusual, however. The key to Georgia's offense all season long has been the 5-foot-10 Wheeler, and the trick to slowing him down has been keeping him out of the lane. Wheeler recorded 12 points and six assists during the first matchup against Missouri. His season averages are even better at 14 points and 7.2 assists per game. Wheeler, like the rest of the Georgia offense, has done the majority of his scoring inside the three-point arc, as he's shooting just 22.8 percent from deep on the year. Missouri's guards have not always been successful at staying in front of opposing guards this season, but if the Tigers can find a way to keep Wheeler out of the lane and frustrate him a bit, it's hard to envision Georgia scoring enough points to keep pace.

                                     POWERMIZZOU PREDICTION

Even though Georgia won the first matchup between these two teams this season, Missouri should be the better team on a neutral floor. The Tigers should be eager to avenge the loss in Athens, as well. Given Brown's success down low in the first matchup, this has the makings of a get-right spot for Tilmon, who has struggled a bit the past couple games. As long as Missouri takes care of the basketball, we think the Tigers win this one fairly comfortably.

FINAL SCORE: Missouri 78, Georgia 71