The Missouri press and pace were the only things that I was genuinely concerned with about this Missouri Tigers team coming into the game. Missouri is not a great shooting team. The reason they average so many points this year is because they get more shots up than just about anyone, not because they are a great shooting team. So that is the style they want to play with, that is what they want to do. The problem with that for UC is something that I outlined in the Q&A I did with Rock M Nation is that there are so many players on the roster who want to run, who want back and forth game. Not necessarily because it is for the best, but because its so much more fun to just sprint up and down the court and jacking really fun 25 foot bricks right Darnell? Ibrahima?
The point is that there are guys on this team who are more than willing to reciprocate and play that style, and that was something that I was dreading. I knew that UC had a massive advantage when the Bearcats could set the defense in front of the on rushing Tigers and that Mizzou had no answers at all to the questions posed by Yancy Gates. Those are two huge advantages that UC had that came from how the two teams were constructed. I think everyone knew that, and I know that Mike Anderson knew that. Anderson knew that he had to lure UC into a Mizzou kind of game. That would change the odds in his favor. He talked about it at half time and I saw a few quotes about that in the post game. UC didn't indulge in the temptation to run and that is really down to one guy, Cashmere Wright
Cash was the highlight of the night for me. This was one of his strongest games of the year by far. The line doesn't knock you out 32 minutes, 4 of 11 from the field, 11 points, 7 assists against 3 turnovers. He also pitched in with a steal and a board. None of that is overwhelming. When you look at the box score the guy that jumps out at you is Yancy Gates, and that is with good reason. He picked up his 7th double double of the year with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Yancy was always going to be an advantage inside, Missouri simply doesn't have anyone who hope to check him on the interior. But for Yancy to be a factor Cash would have to beat the press. He did just that and he fed the Big Man and Yancy Gates was simply unstoppable.
The other big factor in the game was going to the 2-3 zone. I know that Cronin is not a zone guy, he prefers to play man to man. But Missouri is not a good shooting team so the possibility that there would be some zoning going on was always there. But I had no idea that it would be as effective as it wound up being. Mizzou was one of the best offenses in the country coming in but the zone not only forced them into a ton of contested looks it really slowed them down offensively. You can't rush to beat a zone, it requires patience and precision. The Tigers have the latter in spades, but they don't posses an ounce of patience.
- I really like the young Tiger Flip Pressey, he had a great game and was a terror defensively with 5 steals
- Sean Kilpatrick is going to be the player of the year in the Big East by the time he is done. That might be jumping the gun but I will stand by that. He has hit double figures in 4 of his last 6 games.
- Dion Dixon has to be the most anonymous leading scorer of any team still in the tourney. He never does anything that sticks with you as the game goes on but you look at the box score and see 16 points, 6 boards and a dish. And I honestly can't remember a single play he made 12 hours later.
- I was a little harsh with Ibrahima early but he posted 7 and 7 in 24 solid minutes.
- Rashad Bishops toe must be alright because he completely erased Marcus Denmon who scored 10 points in Mizzou high 33 minutes on 11 shots. I think I am going to miss Bishop