Dubbed as the game of the day, Missouri - Baylor lived up to the hype in terms of entertainment value. With the game close for 30 minutes, the Tigers built a double digit lead mid-way through the second half and were able to fend off a late Baylor run by going 10-12 from the free throw line in the last minute. A big win for Frank Haith and his kids.
The fear is that Mizzou is doomed because they don't have a true big man and as a result struggle against bigger, more physical teams
I was scared too...until today.
Watching this team handle a frontcourt that goes 6-7, 6-9, 6-11 quelled those doubts, and with a handful of guys able to get in to the lane and cause havoc, Missouri seems just fine at getting points in the paint.
Five takeaways after the jump.
- Missouri is a legit Final Four contender - Twitter loves Missouri, and it's in love with Phil Pressey. The most talented guard from the most talented group of guards in the country, Frank Haith's ability to mitigate a lack of height is impressive. Sure nothing's a guarantee, but with the media searching high and low for a few more Final Four caliber teams to join Kentucky and Syracuse, I think this team is more than adequate to claim the "elite' distinction.
- Baylor is not a legit Final Four contender - Not with their inability to play defense or allegedly being "Mentally Weak". It's too bad too. There was a lot of hype surrounding this team coming into the season. Currently ranked third in the country, you could argue the Bears are the third most talented team in the country, they're just far from being the third best team (or even one of the 10 best teams) in the country.
- "Sometimes quickness negates size, even on the glass" - Those were the words of the great Fran Fraschilla, following a Marcus Denmon tip-in nearly mid way through the first half. Despite being incredibly shorter than Baylor, the Tigers outrebounded the Bears. This lack of attention to fundamentals (Baylor repeatedly got caught out of position or simply did not box out on defense) should drive Scott Drew crazy, but when asked about this at halftime by Holly Rowe, Drew was grinning like all was OK. I hope his tone was different once he entered the locker room. You're supposed to get ticked off if you aren't rebounding, right?
- What position will Perry Jones III play at the next level - He doesn't look comfortable down low, and isn't a good enough shooter to think he could be successful as an oversized 3. I think he could defend nearly every position on the court, but right now I see too many questions on the offensive end to consider him as a top 5 pick. For this season, at least, it would be nice to see him look to play closer to the basket. Jones III should have been salivating at the opportunity to play the smaller Tigers. Instead he took only seven shots from the floor, didn't get to the free throw line once, and finished with eight points.
- This game was fun to watch - That's about as simply as I can put it. With growing complaints about college basketball being too over coached and physical, watching Missouri - Baylor was a liberating experience. Sure there were bouts of sloppy play, but both teams looked to push the tempo, especially off of made baskets, and it sort of reminded me about the type of game we were accustomed to back in the day (like the late 90s and early aughts, I'm not that old). We deserve this type of basketball more often.