Things were looking so promising for Missouri heading into the Big 12 season. The Tigers were 11-2 ? although very unchallenged ? and looking confident in what new coach Mike Anderson was preaching. The only problem was that MU built its record against a largely unimpressive list of teams. All but two of the Tigers 13 non-conference games were in the friendly confines of Mizzou Arena. Both the games played outside of Columbia resulted in losses (at Purdue and a neutral site game against Illinois). My, oh my, how things have changed.
It all started with a seemingly harmless conference opener at home against Iowa State. The Cyclones, like Missouri, were under a new coach (Greg McDermott), and had an impressive non-conference record. But also much like Mizzou, Iowa State built wins over cupcake schools at home. Only one of ISU?s wins ? 68-63 at Minnesota ? came against a team in a top-6 RPI conference.
The game between Mizzou and Iowa State looked to be going in the Tigers favor for much of the contest. Missouri was leading by as much as 16 in the second half before the Cyclones came roaring back. Freshman Wesley Johnson led the charge and it was his tip-in at the buzzer that gave ISU a 66-65 victory. Both teams have stumbled since.
Missouri has only won two games in conference play, having lost five of seven since the loss to Iowa State. Most of those losses have been close, but a loss is a loss in the grand scheme of things.
?Right now, we?re not playing the way I?d want us to play,? Missouri coach Mike Anderson said. ?We?ve just got to get back in the mode of playing basketball the way we?re capable of playing.?
Losing as many games in succession like the Tigers have done can wear on any team?s confidence.
?We got to come together as a unit and get things done instead of trying to get things done individually,? Tigers forward Marshall Brown said. ?I feel like if we play together as a unit we?ll start getting wins.?
Iowa State hasn?t been much better off since the comeback win in Columbia. The Cyclones are only 2-5 since the Jan. 6 matchup. They did however snap a five-game losing streak with a win over Baylor Saturday.
Both teams meet again tonight looking to turn its season around for the better.
?It should be an interesting ball game. It?s a big ball game for both teams,? Anderson said. ?Our job is to go in and see if we can steal one on the road. They did that (in Columbia).?