As the season has progressed, Missouri's perimeter defense (one of its primary calling cards not so long ago) has left a lot to be desired. Theories abound as to why, among them:
- Missouri's current group of players doesn't pride itself on defense the way previous groups did.
- Missouri's strategic decision to always switch on screens leaves certain defenders ill equipped to contest perimeter shots.
- Missouri is too aggressive going for steals rather than staying in proper position to simply defend the shot.
- Missouri's perimeter defenders are too small to get hands on balls bigger defenders might have deflected.
- Somehow, it's Stefhon Hannah's fault.
There's at least a modicum of truth to each of those theories (well, maybe not the last one). And though Baylor isn't as respected or feared as the free-shooting offensive forces of its recent past, the Bears represent the type of threat that could continue proving the theories disturbingly correct.
The primary threat comes in the form of LaceDarius Dunn, whose deadliness as a spot shooter is a major point of concern heading into Wednesday night. Furthermore, the quick release afforded to him by his nearly non-existent vertical during his jump shots minimizes any margin for error Mizzou's defenders may have had.
So even though Perry Jones is a one-man matchup problem in the paint, it's Dunn and his unique brand of isolation that could put Missouri on alert. Rock M Nation's Bill Connelly touched on the curious case of LaceDarius in his Baylor preview:
LaceDarius Dunn is the best and worst thing Baylor's got going. He's one of the most high-usage players in the country, and he takes 33.1% of his team's shots (26th most in the country), but while his efficiency numbers are solid, they're not that good. When you've got Perry Jones III on your side, you probably don't need somebody else eating up one-third of your possessions.
So what is the best way to defend Dunn? For the Tigers, it might be doing what they do best, especially at home: Keeping the ball out of his hands by forcing turnovers. Again, I defer to Connelly, who had this to say regarding Baylor's weaknesses:
[T]hey can't hold onto the ball. They are the second-worst major-conference team in the country in terms of both Off. TO% and Off. Steal% (only South Florida is worse). Their point guard situation is a debacle. They rank 286th in terms of Off. A/FGM, meaning all of their points come off of one-on-one situations or putbacks. They rank 332nd in Pomeroy's Bench Minutes measure and 238th in Experience. In other words, their stats suggest they are potentially the least-equipped team in the conference when it comes to handling a swarming Mizzou team at Mizzou Arena.