The Wichita State Shockers will travel to Columbia to take on the Missouri Tigers on Friday night at Mizzou Arena. Wichita State is off to a solid 4-1 start after winning a 74-73 thriller over the UNLV Rebels last Sunday as a 3.5-point road favorite. Missouri is 3-2 so far on the young season after getting hammered 81-58 by the Florida State Seminoles as a 9,5-point underdog on a neutral court.
All four previous meetings between these two teams have gone in favor of Missouri, including a 72-62 victory last December in Wichita.
Wichita State finishes Las Vegas tournament at 1-1After a heartbreaking overtime loss to No. 17 Arizona last Friday to begin the Main Event tournament at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, the Shockers managed to respond by holding off UNLV in a tight game two nights later. The Shockers trailed for much of the night, going down by as many as 11 points early in the second half, but reeled off a 12-2 run to get back in the game at the 9:00 mark, and Tyson Etienne nailed two clutch free throws in the final seconds to give Wichita State the win.
Etienne, who also had a go-ahead three late, finished with 28 points and four assists, while Kenny Pohto added 12 points off the bench. The Shockers were outshot by UNLV overall, but finished a solid 12/30 from beyond the arc while forcing 18 Rebels turnovers.
“In life, if you hit something that you don’t do well or you mess up, you want to learn from your mistakes,” Etienne said to The Wichita Eagles. “I went back and watched film on how I shot the free throws. I looked at my balance on the two free throws that I missed (against Arizona). I stayed focus on my balance
Wichita State is off 2-3 start against the spread, with the two covers coming prior to the game against UNLV as it blew out Tarleton State before keeping close with Arizona as nearly a double-digit underdog. Overs are also 2-3 for the Shockers, with each of their last two games going over the betting total.
It's been a struggle for the Shockers offense, which is averaging 68.2 points per game on shooting splits of 43.5% from two and 32.6% from three, all ranking 205th or worse nationally. Wichita State's defense has been solid enough, allowing 64.2 points per game with opponents shooting 51.5% from two and 28.6% from three.
Etienne is the leader of the Wichita State offense with an average of 18.8 points and 2.8 assists per game. Ricky Council IV adds 11.8 points and 1.6 steals per contest, while Dexter Dennis is chipping in 8.0 points and 6.0 rebounds per contest.
Freshman forward Isaac Abidde has been unable to make his college debut as he deals with an ankle injury.
Missouri no match for Florida State in JacksonvilleThe Tigers had at least one good result at the Jacksonville Classic with an upset win over the SMU Mustangs, but couldn't build momentum in the title game as Florida State rolled to a blowout win. An 11-0 run midway through the first helped Florida State build a quick 25-10 lead, and things didn't get any better in the second half as the Seminoles went up by as many as 28 points eventually.
Still fighting. 9-2 run for the Tigers— Mizzou Hoops (@MizzouHoops) November 23, 2021
Davis with team-high nine points, Kobe Brown with eight. pic.twitter.com/Zm7chNkphK
Amari Davis led the Tigers with 14 points on 6/9 shooting from the field while adding two steals, and Kobe Brown added 13 points. It was an ugly effort all around, as Missouri shot just 38.2% from the floor compared to a mark of 61.1% by Florida State.
“They were the aggressor,” head coach Cuonzo Martin said to the Columbian Missourian. “They played with athleticism, got to the rim, made plays — good one-on-one players. We felt like our one-on-one defense had to be at a premium.”
Missouri is off to a 2-3 start against the spread, with its most impressive effort coming in the overtime win over SMU as a seven-point underdog. Overs are a strong 4-1 for the Tigers after both their games at the Jacksonville Classic went over the betting total.
It hasn't been pretty for the Tigers on either side of the ball, with the offense putting up an average of 67.2 points per game on 47.1% shooting from two and 30.6% from three. Missouri's defense is surrendering 68.2 points per game with opponents shooting 49.4% from two and 35.7% shooting from beyond the arc.
Brown has at least been a bright spot, piling up 16.0 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game on 63.0% shooting from the floor. Ronnie Degray adds 11.4 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game, with Davis chipping in 9.4 points per contest.
Three-star freshman forward Trevon Brazile is yet to play due to COVID protocol, and it's unclear when he will join the team.
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It looks like its going to be a long season in Columbia, as Missouri has played poorly apart from the win over SMU while losing to teams like the UMKC Kangaroos. There's enough returning talent from the Wichita State team that reached the NCAA Tournament a season ago, and the Shockers defense will be in control here as the best unit on the floor.
Missouri was also in the Big Dance last season, but is only bringing back 19.7% of its minutes played from that team, compared to a mark of 58.1% for the Shockers. The offense is the primary concern for the Tigers as they aren't getting efficient play from anyone other than Brown and Degray while managing just a 46.7 team effective field goal percentage as a team, but the defense is also struggling badly to contain opponents on the perimeter.
Taking an excellent Arizona team to overtime shows the Shockers have overcome their shaky start, and this is a solid all-around defense that ranks 65th in KenPom's adjusted efficiency. Fading Missouri looks like a strong play this season, and the Shockers are good enough to handle this matchup on the road.
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The Shockers have been much better defensively than offensively in the early going, as they are not shooting the ball well at all particularly from the interior, ranking 289th nationally in two-point field goal percentage. This looks like a favorable matchup on the other side however, with the Shockers ranking in the top 20 nationally in turnovers forced, while Missouri has been very sloppy with the ball thus far.
Beyond these offenses not being efficient, neither team is interested in pushing the tempo much, especially Missouri which likes to play with a mid-60s possession total. Both offenses tend to go cold for long stretches of time, and this looks poised to be a defensive struggle.