COLUMBIA MO - DECEMBER 08: Ricardo Ratliffe #10 of the Missouri Tigers grabs a rebound during the game against of the Vanderbilt Commodores on December 8 2010 at Mizzou Arena in Columbia Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
The Wildcats will need strong play from their inconsistent front-court if they hope to stay with a dominant Tiger team.
After a blistering 14-0 start that has them ranked No. 6 in the nation, the Missouri Tigers travel to Manhattan Saturday for their first road test of Big 12 play against the No. 22 Kansas State Wildcats.
Kansas State, after an impressive non-conference slate pushed them into the Top 25, had a tough welcome to the ranks of the nation's elite this week, as they were beaten handily in a 69-47 loss to their arch-rival Kansas Jayhawks in Lawrence.
Missouri thrives on speeding up the game and getting their athletes out in space, which will be a good test for the Wildcats starting back-court of Rodney Macgruder and Will Spradling, who have combined to average 4 assists and 2.1 turnovers a game this season.
The undersized Tigers rely heavily on 6'8 senior forward Ricardo Ratliffe down-low, as he is one of only two 6'7+ scholarship players currently on their roster. However, he has thrived as the only big man in four guard sets, averaging 14.1 points and 7.3 rebounds with an eye-popping 76.7 field goal percentage.
The game could be decided at the power forward spot, where 6'6 Missouri guard Kim English will try to take Samuels, a 6'7 forward, out to the perimeter, while Samuels will attempt to pound the ball inside and slow the tempo of the game.
The 12:30 PM game will be broadcast regionally on the Big 12 Network.