Saturday, February 11, 2012
Rapid Reaction: Missouri 72, Baylor 57
By Dana O'Neil
COLUMBIA, Mo. -- A quick look at Missouri’s 72-57 win over Baylor ...
What it means: At this point, Missouri is playing for seed and NCAA location more than anything. The Tigers want to not only secure a top seed, but they’d like to elbow out either Kansas or Ohio State for the rights to St. Louis. Wins such as this, in which they stretch the space in the Big 12 in convincing fashion, help. In the meantime, you can start writing Baylor’s Big 12 title obit. With four league losses (sweeps at the hands of KU and Mizzou), the Bears will have to hope for some miracle mess-ups from the Jayhawks and Tigers.
How it happened: This is the riddle that teams playing Mizzou face. In its first meeting with MU in Waco, Baylor went man-to-man and got smoked in the paint by the more aggressive Tigers. This time, the Bears went zone and the Tigers drained a season-high 14 3-pointers. That is, at least partially, an indictment of Baylor, a team gifted with athleticism that inexplicably doesn’t know how to use it. But it also is the challenge Missouri poses with its unique style and lineup.
Star of the game: I’m tempted to say the 3-point line because that was the difference in this game. But if we’re looking for an individual, you have to give it to Phil Pressey. The littlest guy on the floor made all the difference, scoring a team-high 19 points, including four of those 3s. Pressey had struggled offensively in his previous two games.
For starters: Baylor, embarrassed in the paint and on the boards in the first meeting, dominated both in the first half but still trailed 33-29 at halftime. How? The Tigers negated the Bears’ 23-8 rebounding edge and 14-0 second-chance points edge with pesky defense and great 3-point shooting. Missouri forced seven BU turnovers, turning them into 12 easy points. Mix in 6-of-13 shooting from the arc, and you’ve got the Tigers’ lead. Pressey led Missouri with 12 points at the break.
Stat of the game: Mizzou is now 3-0 against teams in the AP Top 10 this season with a pair of wins against Baylor and one against Kansas a week ago. According to ESPN Stats & Info, that's more wins against top-10 teams than the Tigers had in their previous seven seasons combined. Missouri went just 2-16 against top-10 competition from 2005 through last season and was outscored by more than 10 points per game in those matchups.
What’s next: The Tigers host Oklahoma State on Wednesday and are hoping to avenge the upset loss in Stillwater. Meanwhile, Baylor returns to Waco to host Iowa State on Monday night. That’s a dangerous game for the Bears. The Cyclones are hovering on the good side of the bubble right now but certainly could use a signature win to secure their spot. And Baylor, with back-to-back humbling losses to Kansas and Missouri, is certainly ripe for picking.