Missouri is rolling on a four-game winning streak, but the Tigers are going to need more than momentum to come out of Austin, Texas with a victory.
The Longhorns (18-8) are fifth in the Big 12 Conference at 7-6, but a loss to Missouri on Saturday could drop them to the lower half of the standings. Texas lost a tough road game at Texas Tech 69-65 on Tuesday, but Longhorns coach Rick Barnes said he thinks his team could be in its prime because his players are healthy.
Texas used a zone defense with a lack of depth earlier this season, but now that the Longhorns have a full lineup they can go back to playing man-to-man. The zone has had some advantages.
“I do think that we have gotten to a point where our team is very comfortable playing either man or zone,” Barnes said in a teleconference Monday. “I do think we definitely rebound the ball better out of the man. For whatever reason, we had some problems at times rebounding out of the zone.”
Barnes said his players are also more familiar with man-to-man and go into games with that type of mindset. He might change his mind and revert back to the zone against the Tigers, who have struggled against that defense all season.
Even if both teams decide to play zone, neither will hesitate to shoot its way out. Texas ranks first in the conference in 3-point shots made with 211 and Missouri is third with 179.
Missouri coach Quin Snyder has not had the best luck against Texas. He is 0-6 against the Longhorns all-time, including a heart-breaking loss last season in Columbia. Texas won 79-75 in overtime. In regulation,
Missouri senior Arthur Johnson blocked a shot by Texas’ Brian Boddicker, who then hit a 3-pointer with seconds left to send the game into overtime.
Snyder said his team needs to play better than it did in a 63-54 win against Colorado on Tuesday to get his first win against the Longhorns.
“Obviously, I’m real disappointed and angry and a lot of other emotions about how we came out in the first half,” Snyder said. “All I can say is it’s something we try and emphasize 10 different ways. Coming off a big win on the road with some guys suspended from Colorado, knowing we had to have energy. We had to be focused and to not play that way.”
Snyder said the Tigers have shown signs of greatness at times this season but needed to find that winning mentality again.
“When we’ve embraced and really bought into the identity of a tough-minded, defensive, hustling, scrapping club, we’ve ended up being more effective in every other area of the game,” Snyder said. “When we identify with ourselves as players and making shots, we’re just not very good and we don’t have one guy on our team that’s good enough to play like that, to put it on autopilot and be effective.”