The final numbers were almost astounding. The Missouri Tigers men’s basketball team beat the Oklahoma Sooners with a final score that showed two programs heading in different directions in an 87 to 49 win. But those numbers weren’t the astounding ones — it was the rebounding differential that was 38 to 23 in favor of Missouri that makes a Tigers fan shake their heads wondering how the guard heavy roster lacking in size can outrebound a much bigger opponent.
On the season, the Tigers are outrebounding their opponents by a 35 to 31 margin, creating a +4 differential through 14 games this year. Obviously, with a lighter schedule than most Big 12 top tier teams, the Tigers have yet to face the rigorous conference foes who might change that scale. However, it’s hard to ignore just how well the Tigers are rebounding at this point in the season, even after the loss of forward Laurence Bowers.
“More than any other single factor, rebounding looms as a real make or break area for the Tigers I think,” writes Aaron Schafer. "Mizzou has brilliant guard play, they shoot the lights out of the building most nights, and they play defense nearly as tight as the Mike Anderson “40 Minutes of Hell” teams. Rebounding, though, doesn’t come as easily to this team as most other aspects of the game. It’s a smallish team, and they get outplayed under the rim most nights."
Ricardo Ratliffe leads the team with 7.3 boards/game, but Kim English and Marcus Denmon are both right around 5 rebounds per game apiece. Even Matt Pressey adds 4.5, making it team effort overall to continue to dominate the glass. If the Tigers are going to continue their incredible 2011-12 season, rebounding could remain the key down the stretch.