Here are three things I think following Mizzou’s 80-70 loss to Kansas State in Manhattan:
Welcome to Foul Fest 2011 at Bramlage Coliseum
Games between Frank Martin and Mike Anderson’s teams shouldn’t be much of a surprise anymore. When put on the same floor, Kansas State and Missouri set about a brand of athletic competition that would be better suited to an octagon. Players talked about the bad blood between the teams prior to the game, and though the game was played cleanly by both sides, that didn’t make the game any less physical.
But not helping matters was a whistle-happy officiating crew that left both teams baffled. Justin Safford was called for a foul for standing straight up as Curtis Kelly dipped into him, but then Mizzou could go for stretches pounding away at Kansas State’s big men. Jacob Pullen sulked while not getting calls in the paint, then picked up a foul for what could best be described as traveling.
The game had all the flow of rush hour traffic. But given the back-and-forth nature of the officiating, neither team had an excuse. Kansas State weathered the storm in defending its home court.
Speaking of weathering the storm…
Missouri was lucky it wasn’t blitzed off the court in the first few minutes on Saturday. It was a game on rewind for Mizzou, a team that has frequently found itself in big holes early on the road. But in most of those games, Mizzou has been able to claw its way back, only to be unable to close out.
The “Mizzou struggles on the road” narrative took a hit after a win in Ames, but it’s clear that it still isn’t dead. Now, fans must wonder which team is the real Missouri Tigers. Are they a decent team that is absurdly good at home, or are they a good team that severely underperforms away from Mizzou Arena?
Big man blues
There aren’t many teams that matchup well with Kansas State’s forwards, and Missouri certainly doesn’t fit in that minority. Ricardo Ratliffe, who had been strong all year when faced with a challenge, picked a horrible time to disappear for a day. Not helping matters were Steve Moore and Justin Safford, both of whom couldn’t stay on the floor long enough to help in Ratliffe’s absence.
However, lost in the concern about Ratliffe, Moore and Safford is juxtaposed with the fact that Laurence Bowers has quietly morphed himself into Missouri’s most complete player in the past few weeks. That stayed true on Saturday:
Bowers: 37 minutes, 16 points, 9 rebounds, 2 blocks, 1 foul
Ratliffe/Moore/Safford: 21 minutes, 2 points, 1 rebound, 0 blocks, 11 fouls