After two comeback victories, first at No.20 Gonzaga and then at home against Fresno State, the Arizona Wildcats will want to jump out early against a struggling Missouri Tigers team. Besides Kaleb Tarczewski, they may have to do so without two more key players: Kadeem Allen, who sprained his ankle against Fresno State, and top defender Elliott Pitts, whose mysterious absence continues to baffle Wildcats fans.
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TIME: 6:00 P.M. MST
TV: PAC-12 NETWORKS
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With a record of 5-3, including three consecutive losses to Xavier, Kansas State, and Northwestern, Missouri is a young team trying to find their identity. Their two leading scorers are freshmen, 6-7 forward Kevin Puryear (14.7 PPG), and 5-11 guard Terrence Phillips (10 PPG). Puryear is coming off his fourth-consecutive double-digit scoring game after notching 18 points and a career-high eight rebounds in Mizzou’s 85-78 victory over Nebraska-Omaha, while Phillips is coming off a 14-point performance, his second-highest of the season. However, he also leads the team in turnovers at 2.9 per game.
Wes Clark is Mizzou’s play-making engine. At 3.6 APG, he is perfectly capable of getting his teammates shots, but he is also prone to bad shot selection, shooting a dismal 26.2% from the field. However, as a team, Mizzou shoots rather well -- 45% from the field and 34.1% from deep. Interestingly, Mizzou lacks a true center, and their best rebounder is 6’5" sophomore guard, Namon Wright (five per game).
If the Wildcats pounce early and play with energy, as well as take advantage of Mizzou’s tendency to turn the ball over and exploit the Tigers' weakness in the post, they could be on their way to securing their national record 44th-straight home win.
Watch out especially for Arizona freshman Allonzo Trier. After a career-best 27 points against Fresno State, and with starter Kadeem Allen likely out, Arizona may need to rely more on the rising star. Leading scorers Ryan Anderson (15.8 PPG) and Gabe York (13.9) will also need to step up.
Because Mizzou lacks a legitimate force in the paint, Anderson could very well dominate. With so many injuries, Arizona can’t afford to suffer another halftime deficit. Pitts would have likely defended Puryear, and if he doesn’t play again due to the "personal issue" head coach Sean Miller referenced as the reason he didn’t play against Fresno State, look for 6’9" versatile forward Mark Tollefsen to guard the freshman playmaker.