Missouri faces another ‘do-or-die’ game

The Tigers hope to avoid their longest Big 12 losing streak since 1996-97.
Wednesday, January 19, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 8:18 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

What concerned the media at the beginning of the season didn’t seem to bother Texas Tech’s Ronald Ross.

With the departure of Andre Emmett and his league-leading 20.6 points per game, reporters at the Big 12 Conference Media Days sought Ross’ insight about how the Red Raiders would compensate.

His response was eerily prophetic.

“I think it is going to be more distributed throughout the team,” Ross said. “It’s not necessarily going to be one person focusing on doing the scoring. People are going to spread it out and contribute the ways they can.”

Through 14 games, that has been the case.

Texas Tech (10-4, 2-1) has five players averaging double figures in scoring and, as a team, the Red Raiders are tied with Texas for the league’s top scoring average at 82.9.

Texas Tech will play Missouri tonight at 7 in Mizzou Arena.

Ross leads the way with 15.1 points per game. Jarrius Jackson averages 13.4, and Martin Zeno adds 12.8. Devonne Giles (11.7) and Curtis Marshall (11) round out the five.

The numbers support coach Bobby Knight’s preseason assertion that each returning player would have to score three or four more points than he did a year ago.

“If that can be done,” Knight said, “you have basically made up for what you have lost in terms of graduation.”

So far Marshall has made the biggest jump, averaging almost 10 points more than he did last season. Ross has improved his average by five points. Giles and Jackson have improved their averages by two points.

Such an attack concerns Missouri coach Quin Snyder.

“What has you worried is balance,” Snyder said.

“They’re so balanced that you got to guard all five guys. There’s no way to play off certain guys because they all read well and have the ability to knock the ball in the basket.”

Snyder also expressed the need for the Tigers to contain the Red Raiders’ quickness, something they didn’t do last year in a loss at Lubbock, Texas, or in a loss at Kansas State on Saturday.

But whatever the game plan, Snyder said tonight’s game is simply “one of those ‘must’ type wins.”

If Missouri loses to Texas Tech it would be the Tigers’ longest losing streak in the Big 12 since the 1996-97 season.

It would also be the team’s second three-game losing streak of the season.

A good shooting night could bolster Missouri’s chances. Currently, the Tigers are at the bottom of the Big 12 in scoring average and near the bottom in field goal and 3-point percentages.

“This is about the sixth game that is about a do-or-die game,” Snyder said.

“(Texas Tech is) a confident team right now. They seem very comfortable with each other on the offensive end and are scoring a lot of points.”

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