Mizzou basketball notes: No stopping Burks Saturday

Mizzou lost its Big 12 opener for the second time in three years Saturday, falling 89-76 to Colorado in Boulder. Before you freak out, Mizzou lost 56-51 at Nebraska in its conference opener in far more frustrating fashion in 2009. That was the worst loss of Mizzou’s 2008-2009 season, and Mizzou still made the Elite Eight.

  • There was no stopping Alec Burks Saturday afternoon. His turnaround jump shot with one second left on the shot clock late in the second half pretty much summed up his day—even when Mizzou had tight defense on the 6-foot-6 guard, he still hit the shot. Burks ended up scoring 36 points in what probably will be the most dominant single-player performance you’ll see against Mizzou this year. And it didn’t come out of nowhere—Burks averaged about 19 points per game coming into Saturday and scored 27 against Mizzou in Boulder last year.
  • Tad Boyle employs a fantastic style of play perfectly suited to Colorado. Usually, when opponents run an up-tempo offense against Mizzou, the Tigers are able to hang or run their opponents into the ground. But Saturday’s loss was a rare case in which a Mike Anderson team was the one being run off the court. It was Mizzou, not Colorado, turning the ball over, committing lazy fouls, forcing up bad shots, and leaving those bad shots short—the telltale signs of a team that’s tired. While Ken Pomeroy’s numbers show Colorado plays at about an average tempo, my guess is that their tempo is faster at home than at neutral sites or on the road. Colorado isn’t a fast team, but playing at altitude—where opponents tire easier—certainly appeared to help the Buffs control the game with an up-tempo style with ease. It’ll be interesting to see how Colorado fares against a more half-court offense at home, because if they’re able to control the pace don’t be surprised if they pull another upset of this manner again this year.
  • Laurence Bowers nearly had a triple-double. Not the traditional kind, though. Bowers scored 15 points and was one rebound and one block away from a triple-double, which is pretty amazing. Bowers had nine blocks. He was everywhere defensively, and while quite a few of his blocks bounced right into the hands of Colorado players…nine blocks is incredible. He nearly had 10, but came in a little too late on a layup attempt and was called for goaltending. If you’re looking for bright spots from Saturday, Bowers and Michael Dixon stand out for Mizzou.
  • It’s good to have Phil Pressey back. He’s hardly 100 percent and has no business shooting, but defensively, he made an impact in the second half. He provided the fresh legs Mizzou desperately needed on the defensive end and had a team-leading three steals, keying a defensive revival from Mizzou that allowed the Tigers to get within single-digits for the first time in the second half. Going forward, Pressey probably won’t be at 100 percent for a while, but he can make a defensive impact that’s worth having him on the floor.

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