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Mizzou Must Protect Home Court to Keep Pace in Defense-Heavy SEC

Mizzou lost a road game in the SEC Saturday. In other news, water is wet and the St. Louis weather seems to change by the hour.

This is not to make light of the Tigers snapping their 5-game winning streak with a frustrating loss at LSU, but it’s simply a reminder SEC road wins are incredibly difficult to come by. It’s part of what made Missouri’s wins at South Carolina and Alabama so impressive, and why the Florida loss at home felt so deflating.

The SEC has the best home-court advantage of any power-five conference in the country. SEC teams are 69-29 this season at home this season. That’s a heck of a turnaround considering those same SEC teams were 72-54 at home a season ago; that record ranked as the worst home court advantage among the power-five conferences.

One reason road wins are so difficult to come by in this conference is because the defense in the SEC is unparalleled.

The SEC features 10 of the top 45 defenses in the country (ranked by defensive efficiency), including 3 of the top 10, and 5 of the top 25. No other conference has more than 7 teams ranked in the top 45 in defensive efficiency.

The SEC is the best defensive conference in the country. Defense travels, but think about the best defenses in the country – they are perennially strong at home. I’m talking about teams like Virginia, Cincinnati, West Virginia & Kansas. Play good defense, win at home. That’s been the formula for some of the best teams in the country. It’s the formula for the entire SEC in 2018.

That formula is going to be important for Missouri down the stretch. The Tigers find themselves in a 4-way tie for 3rd in the SEC with Arkansas, Alabama and Florida.

Mizzou has the “easiest” remaining schedule of the four teams. In order to earn a double-bye in the SEC Tournament, the Tigers need to take care of business at home against Mississippi and Arkansas. They may also need to pull off a road win either at Kentucky or at Vanderbilt.

The loss at LSU was difficult to watch at times. Jeremiah Tilmon’s 0-for-6 from the field, the Tigers’ 7-for-17 from the free throw and the seemingly countless missed layups cost them. But it’s not the end of the world. Everyone in the SEC has that kind of road loss on their resume. That’s just the way the conference has been this season.

And it makes Tuesday night’s game against Ole Miss all the more important. Mizzou has put together quite the resume for the tournament. A home loss against Mississippi would be just the second “bad” loss of the season; the type of loss the committee does not view fondly.

This isn’t a must win game, but it’s pretty darn close.

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