The No. 14 Missouri Tigers have struggled this season away from the comforts of Mizzou Arena. After battling through one of the biggest snowstorms in recent memory, the Tigers' road troubles continued Wednesday with a 76-70 loss to the Oklahoma State Cowboys.
“We got a chance once again to see what life is like on the road in the Big 12,” coach Mike Anderson said in a news release. “Every night you have to show up. We didn’t play the brand of basketball we’ve been playing this year. And you have to credit Oklahoma State because they did a great job of attacking us.”
The Tigers fell behind early and couldn’t recover, trailing by as much as 10 points in the first half.
The weather complicated travel plans for the Tigers, who left Columbia on Monday for the Wednesday night matchup. Despite leaving early, the team did not arrive in Stillwater until midday Wednesday.
“We aren’t going to make excuses but at the same time it was a different schedule than we usually have,” Anderson said. “We flew in (Wednesday) and it seemed like it took us a while to get into any rhythm, especially early on.”
Junior guards Marcus Denmon and Matt Pressey led the Tigers with 15 points in the loss. Junior forward Kim English was held to only four points on one of eight shooting on the night.
The Tigers’ rebounding struggles continued against the Cowboys. Oklahoma State out-rebounded Missouri 39-35, with Cowboy forward Darnell Williams leading the way with 13 rebounds to go along with 15 points. Oklahoma State also got stellar production from guards Jean-Paul Olukemi and Keiton Page, who both dropped 19 points in the victory.
The biggest discrepancy was at the charity stripe, where the Cowboys shot 43 free throws to only 16 for the Tigers. Olukemi stressed the importance of making free throws late in the game.
“When you have the opportunity to step to the line and hit big free throws, you have to knock them down,” Olukemi said. “It’s important to do that for the team, especially late in the game because the clock is not moving.”
Despite the up-tempo play of the Tigers, the Cowboys turned the ball over only 11 times in the game. Page said countering the pressure led to the spike in free throw attempts.
“We did a good job of attacking their pressure,” Page said in a news release. “We struggled with it last year. We knew that if we took care of the ball we would get to the free throw line.”
Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford also acknowledged the importance of taking care of the ball against the scrappy Missouri squad.
“Tonight Missouri pressed us and trapped us more than any other team they’ve played all year,” Ford said in a news release. “We only turned the ball over 11 times and that was the key. When you only have 11 turnovers against Missouri that means a lot.”
The week doesn’t get any easier for the Tigers, as they travel home to take on the Colorado Buffaloes on Saturday night. Following that game Missouri hits the road again for a marquee matchup Monday against the Kansas Jayhawks.