The Missouri Tigers host the Baylor Bears tonight looking to extend their longest conference win streak of the season. The Bears are trying to forget Saturday's loss as they're in the midst of their toughest stretch of the season.
It seemed like Mizzou hadn't gotten on track all conference season. Every time they looked to gain momentum, they'd face a tough team on the road. Now, with the majority of their most difficult gates behind them, the Tigers can look towards gaining momentum heading into post season play.
The Bears, meanwhile, have been hovering during conference play and I haven't been able to quite figure them out. This is a team that came in with a lot of preseason hype, and a heralded freshman big man in Perry Jones III, but they haven't formed an identity. Minus an overtime victory at Texas A&M, the Bears look to be losing to teams you'd expect a middle rung team to lose to. But saying that they've also had three head scratchers, in losses to Iowa State, Oklahoma and Texas Tech - who currently are the bottom three teams in conference.
Wen the schedules first came out in the fall, many fans on both sides of the court circled this one as a possible match-up of titans. With both teams projected to be in the top quarter of the conference, this one, some thought - ahem, me - might determine who was going to get a first day conference tournament bye, and who would play the extra day. And while the teams are separated by only one game in the standings, the feeling I get is that they're miles apart in both talent level and drive.
Don't get me wrong, this isn't a ‘gimme' for the Tigers, far from it. If we've noticed anything this season about MU it is that their interior game is their Achilles Heel. In Jones, Quincy Acy and J'Mison Morgan, Baylor has three guys who will out-size Mizzou's Ricardo Ratliffe, Laurence Bowers and Justin Safford.
Like always, if the game can be controlled up top, Mizzou should be able to make the hometown fans happy. If the game goes down low and the Tiger frontline gets into foul trouble, the Bears will win this one.
The game tips at 8:00 p.m. and can be seen nationally on ESPN2.
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