January 15, 2013

Drawing the Line

Going all the way back to high school, the scouting reports on Alex Oriakhi have been pretty consistent.
Depending on the day they saw him play, Oriakhi's intensity and agressiveness were noted as either major positives or big detriments to his game.

Missouri fans have seen up close the swings in intensity of the 6-foot-9 center who transferred from Connecticut for his final year of eligibility.

Oriakhi has had stretches of utter dominance. He scored eight points and grabbed six rebounds in a 10-4 Missouri run that lasted just under four minutes against Illinois. He has posted five double-doubles and seven double-digit rebounding games.

But in losses to UCLA and Ole Miss, Oriakhi scored just nine points and had 13 total rebounds while playing 42 of a possible 85 minutes.

Oriakhi's biggest strength has also at times been his biggest detriment. When he gets on a roll such as he did against Illinois or Alabama (16 points, 10 rebounds, two blocks and two steals in 33 minutes), Oriakhi plays with a fire and emotion that has not been seen out of a Tiger big man for quite some time. But when he struggles, it is often that same emotion that is dragging him down. A four-point, six-rebound, two-turnover effort in a 64-49 loss to Ole Miss was a shining example.

"It was definitely a frustrating night," Oriakhi said. "Especially when I get into foul trouble, it seems like I let my emotions get the best of me. I've never really been like that in the past, but it's definitely something that I have to break and it's definitely something I have to control."

"That's the thing we've talked to Alex about is his composure. He's got to get better with that," Haith said. "That's something that he's really got to really work at. Your emotions don't become to the point where it allows you to not be able to give us what we need to get from you. That's what happened in the Ole Miss game. He got so emotional early in that ballgame."

The emotion boiled over in a foul fighting for a defensive rebound. Oriakhi was blocking a Rebels' player out with his right arm. He did so with enough force to send his opponent sprawling to the floor on his back and drew a whistle for a foul.

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