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Sports | Published Jan. 22, 2010 | 0 comments

Missouri looks to bounce back against Nebraska

Published as a part of Maneater v. 76, Issue 29

After the Oklahoma loss, Missouri offense wants to get back in gear.

Last weekend's loss to Oklahoma was Missouri's first in Big 12 play and snapped a nine-game winning streak. Prior to that dud, the Tigers beat then 10th-ranked Kansas State at home and came away with an overtime win in Lubbock, Texas, against Texas Tech.

Despite early season success, coach Mike Anderson sees areas in which the Tigers can improve.

"We need get a little more efficient, especially offensively," Anderson said. "We scored 61 points (against Oklahoma) but didn't shoot the ball well. Of course, when you're on the road, you have to shoot the ball well, as we always say."

Making the loss tougher to swallow, Missouri jumped out to an early 10-0 lead over the Sooners. But when Oklahoma got on the board, it kept the game close before ultimately pulling away in the second half.

"That just shows you that there's a thin line between winning and losing on the road," Anderson said. "We had some opportunities out there to really put ourselves in a good position in that game."

As disappointed as Anderson was, his team took the loss much harder.

"When an opportunity presents itself, you have to come to play," sophomore guard Kim English said. "And we didn't. We got beat. Now we have to suffer this week of pain and anxiety and have to come back on Saturday and beat a very good Nebraska team whose record doesn't really show how good they are."

By the time English and his teammates take the court against the Cornhuskers, it will be one week since the loss to Oklahoma. That time off might seem like an eternity for a team that played three games in an eight-day stretch. But the Tigers cannot afford to let the rust settle in.

Nebraska is 12-6 overall but 0-3 in the Big 12. The Huskers have kept games close thanks in large part to their stingy defense. The team allows opponents only 59.8 points per game, which ranks them first in the conference. That unit will go up against a Missouri offense that comes fourth in the Big 12 at 82.3 points per game.

In order for the Tigers to be successful Saturday, the team will need to regain the explosiveness on offense. As English said, Missouri needs to get back to playing their brand of basketball.

"We're only averaging 11 assists," English said. "We can get 11 assists by the second media timeout. We need to get back to that fast-paced, up-and-down basketball."

Anderson and English see eye to eye on that matter. The coach said the biggest thing his team needs to work on is its efficiency and tempo. Although they slowed a bit in Norman, Okla., the Tigers are hungry to get back to their winning ways against Nebraska.

"You know, sometimes the game doesn't always go the way you want it to," senior guard J.T. Tiller said. "But you've got to learn from it. We're only halfway through the season. And if things haven't gone the way you wanted in the first half, you still have time to fix it up. We just have to keep working, I have to keep working, and hopefully the rhythm will come so we can finish the season up strong."

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