LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Despite leading the Tigers with 20 points, grabbing six rebounds and dishing out three assists, senior forward Leo Lyons took the blame for Missouri’s 90-65 loss Sunday against the Jayhawks.
It wasn’t his performance that disappointed him, but his lack of leadership, he said.
“We got a lot of young guys on our team,” Lyons said. “As leaders, we didn’t step up and get them ready for this. Maybe we’ll learn a lesson and try and do it for next time.”
The Tiger’s bench, loaded with first-year players, failed to make an impact in Allen Fieldhouse. The non-starters contributed only six of Missouri’s 65 points.
“This is by far the hardest place to play in by far that I’ve played in as a college athlete,” Lyons said.
On the floor Lyons did everything he could to ward off an angry Kansas team, clawing for revenge after Missouri’s last-second victory in Columbia. But explaining to his young teammates how to perform in such an extreme atmosphere proved too big of a challenge.
In the first half, all the Tigers had was Lyons. As a team, Missouri shot 20.5 percent from the floor. Lyons made five of his 10 attempts. Only three Tigers scored in the opening period.
Lyons said as a leader he couldn’t let the frustration show on his face.
“I had to try and keep the confidence and keep our team playing hard,” he said.
He had a demanding defensive matchup against Kansas sophomore center Cole Aldrich, who racked up 19 points and 14 rebounds. Lyons looked to his teammates for help with offensive production, but they didn’t have much to offer.
“Any time things are going bad I got to try and pick my team up,” Lyons said. “Sometimes they respond and sometimes they don’t. That’s how it is sometimes.”
The matchup won’t get any easier for Lyons as the No. 3 Oklahoma Sooners -- with a healthy national player of the year candidate in Blake Griffin -- come into town Wednesday. The sophomore forward averages just less than 22 points per game and 14 rebounds per game so far this season.
“We have no choice but to forget about it,” Lyons said. “If we let this linger on to Wednesday the same thing’s going to happen. We need to protect our home court. We’re undefeated there and we want to keep it going.”
Even with the crushing loss to its rival, Lyons said the team’s confidence is still intact.
Coach Mike Anderson said he expects his team to think about this one, let it hurt until midnight and then make sure they learn from the loss.
“Our guys have done it all year long,” Anderson said. “Short-term memory, I always talk about. If you’re a basketball team or basketball player you’ve got to learn how to have short-term memory.”
The Tigers only need to remember how to not let a loss like this happen again.