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Tiger Tipoff Preview: Ole Miss

Prior to each of the major non-conference games and every SEC game for the Tigers, we will post the Tiger Tipoff Preview to get you set for the matchup. Here is our preview of today's matchup against Ole Miss.

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                                         TIP TIME INFORMATION

Missouri (12-13) vs Ole Miss (13-12)

WHEN: 7:30 p.m.

WHERE: Mizzou Arena

TV: SEC Network

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

SERIES: Ole Miss leads 12-2 (Ole Miss won both meetings last season)

KenPom Prediction: Missouri 67-65

                                       THE STARTING LINEUPS

Ole Miss Probable Starters
Player Class Height PPG RPG APG

Khadim Sy

JR

6-10

9.2

5.4

0.7

KJ Buffen

SO

6-7

9.8

6.0

1.6

Breein Tyree

SR

6-2

19.9

3.7

2.6

Devonte Shuler

JR

6-2

11.6

4.6

3.4

Blake Hinson

SO

6-7

10.5

5.1

0.6

Mizzou Probable Starters
Player Class Height PPG RPG APG

Dru Smith

JR

6-3

11.7

4.1

4.1

Xavier Pinson

SO

6-3

8.6

2.2

2.7

Kobe Brown

FR

6-7

5.7

3.1

0.6

Reed Nikko

SR

6-10

4.5

3.5

0.5

Javon Pickett

SO

6-5

7.6

3.9

1.5

Xavier Pinson and backcourt mate Dru Smith have been Missouri's primary source of offense the past three games.
Xavier Pinson and backcourt mate Dru Smith have been Missouri's primary source of offense the past three games. (Jessi Dodge)

                                                  BY THE NUMBERS

Statistical Matchup
Mizzou Category Ole Miss

67.3

PPG

69.4

65.2

PPG Allowed

67.0

43.0

Field Goal %

43.2

31.2

Three-Point %

32.9

+0.3

Rebound Margin

-0.9

14.4

Turnovers

13.0

147

Offensive Efficiency Rank

154

99

Defensive Efficiency Rank

61

255

Tempo

200

51

Strength of Schedule

63

                                        MIZZOU KEYS TO THE GAME

1. Don't let Tyree beat you. Ole Miss will bring the second-leading scorer in the SEC and one of the hottest players in the country to Mizzou Arena in guard Breein Tyree. Tyree has been the main reason Ole Miss has been playing better of late. The Rebels are 3-1 in their last four games, with the only loss being a heartbreaker at Kentucky, and during that span Tyree has averaged 30 points per game. Tyree averages 19.9 points per game on the year and has scored 20 or more nine times already this season. Led by Javon Pickett, Missouri has done a pretty good job limiting volume scorers like Georgia's Anthony Edwards and Arkansas' Mason Jones in recent weeks, but Tyree will present a slightly different challenge because, although he's smaller than Edwards and Jones, he is more quick and a better three-point shooter. If Missouri can frustrate Tyree, its chances of pulling out a victory increase significantly.

2. Keep attacking the basket. Much like Ole Miss, Missouri's recent turnaround has been sparked by its backcourt, although it's been two players carrying the scoring load rather than one. Dru Smith and Xavier Pinson have combined to average 40 points per game across the Tigers' past three games. They've done the majority of their damage by getting to the rim and either finishing or drawing contact. Continuing to do so would seem to be the recipe to beat Ole Miss. The Rebels rank sixth nationally in three-point defense, allowing opponents to shoot just 28.2 percent from behind the arc. They've also been nearly as foul prone as Missouri, committing fouls on 27 percent of opponents' possessions (Missouri is up to 30.5 percent). Missouri cannot afford to settle for three-pointers against Ole Miss; rather, it needs Pinson and Smith to attack and create easy scoring opportunities for themselves and teammates like they did during Saturday's win over Auburn.

3. Take care of the ball. Turnovers doomed Missouri during last season's loss at Ole Miss. The Tigers gave the ball away a whopping 25 times, and their turnover rate of 30.6 percent that game is the third-highest of the Cuonzo Martin era. While the Rebels haven't been quite as adept at turnover opponents over this season, they still rank in the top 70 nationally in steal percentage, and turnovers are always a stat to watch for Missouri. Things are at least trending in the right direction, though, as the Tigers turned the ball over just nine times against Auburn's full-court press.

                                     POWERMIZZOU PREDICTION

Both Missouri and Ole Miss are flawed, inconsistent teams that seem to have righted the ship during the past two weeks. A close game seems likely, although both teams have suffered double-digit losses to worse opponents this season. Assuming the free throw and turnover numbers aren't one-sided, limiting Tyree figures to be the key to victory for Missouri. Given that the Tigers are at home and Ole Miss is coming off a draining loss at Rupp Arena, we like Missouri in a close one.

FINAL SCORE: Missouri 66-62