By Greg DeVries
No. 6 Baylor men’s basketball will look to bounce back from a deflating loss at home to the Kansas Jayhawks, as it takes on the No. 4 Missouri Tigers at 1:30 p.m. Saturday as they travel to Columbia, Mo.
Mental toughness will help the Bears move past the loss to Kansas.
“I think the feeling that we all felt after the game hopefully stays with us until we play again,” head coach Scott Drew said.
Drew also said there are “execution points” and other areas the team can get better in, including mental focus.
“Making sure on the offensive end, especially when the other team is on a run, that we get the quality of shot that we need to have at that point,” Drew said, “and then just make sure that when we have opportunities to extend leads, that we don’t waste those opportunities.”
Baylor’s inability to stop Kansas’ runs played a key role in the loss, but Missouri is a very different team.
“They’re a matchup nightmare for any team,” sophomore Brady Heslip said. “You saw when they played Kansas, [Missouri] gave them problems because they play four guards.”
These four guards are led by senior Marcus Denmon. Denmon is averaging nearly 20 points per game in Missouri’s last four games. This includes a 29-point performance against Kansas on Saturday.
Preventing the fast break will be important for the Bears.
“They’re great playing at home, and they’re a lot faster when they play at home,” sophomore Perry Jones III said. “We just need to prepare for them and hopefully we can get a win so we can stay in the race.”
But Missouri’s guard play isn’t the only aspect of the game that the Bears will need to focus on. In the previous meeting, the Tigers’ only starting post player, Ricardo Ratliffe, finished with 27 points and eight rebounds on 11-14 shooting. Ratliffe leads the nation in field goal percentage at 75.5 percent.
“He’s tough. There’s a reason he’s playing there. There’s a reason he’s the only big in the game for them. But he does what he does well,” Jones III said. “He controls the paint really well. We just have to be able to control our paint and rebound, and we have to be tough with him. We have to rebound. We have to defend. We can’t let him get in post positions.”
The Tigers outrebounded the Bears in their previous meeting. They also shot 31 free throws to Baylor’s 11.
As a team, Missouri shoots nearly 78 percent from the line, so staying out of foul trouble will be important for the Bears.
The game will be televised on the Big 12 Network. in Waco, it is provided through CWTV. Check your local listings.