[6] Texas Longhorns (20-12) vs. [2] Missouri Tigers (28-4)
Sprint Center | Kansas City, MO | Tip: Approx. 9 P.M. CT
TV: Big 12 Network (Affiliate list) & ESPNU (outside of Big 12 markets)
LRT Consecutive Game #219

The Texas Longhorns earned their biggest win of the season last night, dispatching Iowa State in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Championship. The win, combined with numerous losses by other bubble teams, seems to have the Longhorns safely in the NCAA field for now. Tonight’s third tussle with Missouri offers Texas a chance to completely lock up that dance ticket, as a win would give the Horns five against RPI Top 50 opponents. Fortunately, the Horns still look to be in good shape for the NCAAs with a loss in tonight’s game, as long as it remains competitive.

Meet the Tigers

For an in-depth look at the Missouri roster and their style of play, check out LRT’s preview of the first game between these two teams.

The first meeting

Missouri knocked off Texas by an 84-73 count when the teams met at Mizzou Arena on January 14th. Read LRT’s recap of the game for a full breakdown.

The second meeting

When the two schools met in Austin on January 30th, the final few minutes offered nail-biting excitement. The Longhorns erased a 10-point deficit in less than four minutes and even took a lead in the final seconds. Michael Dixon was the hero for the Tigers, though, putting in an impressive game-winning shot with 31 seconds to go. For a full recap of the action in that game, click here for the LRT post-game.

Keys to the game

1) Limit the turnovers – The Longhorns made things difficult in both games against Missouri by wasting first-half possessions. In the first meeting, Texas coughed it up on 22% of their possessions, with two frustrating ones coming during a first-half Mizzou rally that built the lead to double-digits. When the teams met again in Austin, the Horns ended nearly a quarter of their first-half possessions with turnovers. There is little margin for error if Texas wants an upset tonight, so they will have to exhibit the same kind of ball control they had in the win over Iowa State last night.

2) Get a big game from the bigs – Texas will once again be without Alexis Wangmene, who had surgery on his wrist earlier this week. Fortunately, the Tigers typically run a four-out, one-in look, so that hole in the frontcourt won’t be as big of an issue as it could be. Texas needs Clint Chapman to avoid fouls and give another warrior performance like he did against Iowa State. Jonathan Holmes averaged eight boards and 23 minutes in his two games against Missouri, so Texas will be looking for similar output from the freshman tonight.

3) Limit dribble penetration – In the first game, it was Flip Pressey that dissected the Texas defense. In the second, it was Dixon who repeatedly shook J’Covan Brown and lit up the scoreboard. Missouri is great at penetrating with the bounce and getting easy looks for Ricardo Ratliffe or open threes for their dead-eye shooters. When teams take away that penetration — and it’s extraordinarily tough to do against Missouri — the Tiger offense no longer looks unstoppable. If the Longhorns can limit the damage done by the drivers, they should be able to hang tough and challenge the Tigers.