Analysis: Tigers need to be resilient this weekend
Missouri will show its true colors when it responds to the Kansas loss.
Jan. 29, 2010
The word of the week for Missouri should be resiliency because the Tigers can't afford to let Monday's loss at Kansas sink in.
When the Tigers (15-5, 3-2 Big 12) take their home court at 1 p.m. Saturday against Oklahoma State (16-4, 4-2), they will face one of their toughest tests in distinguishing themselves from last season's team.
Three days after suffering what turned out to be its worst loss of the season in a blowout at Kansas, the 2008-2009 version of Missouri bounced back by downing No. 5 Oklahoma at Mizzou Arena.
Fast-forward to this season and the situation seems pretty similar: Missouri coming home with its tail between its legs after a season-worst beat down at Allen Fieldhouse.
Although Oklahoma State doesn't have as much talent as the Sooners did last year, the question remains the same: Can Missouri bounce back and prevent one loss from growing into multiple defeats?
"It's another loss, but you can't dwell on it," junior forward Justin Safford said in the aftermath of Monday night's game.
With the exception of Safford (who scored a career-high 19 points), Missouri continued a disturbing trend of poor shooting in the loss to Kansas. Shooting 27.9 percent for the game and missing 30 shots in the decisive first half, Missouri would have trouble beating anyone with such offensive output, let alone the No. 2 team in country.
The Tigers rank dead last in conference play in field goal percentage at 35.6 percent. Missouri needs a go-to scorer in order to pull itself out of this funk. Sophomore guard Kim English leads Missouri with 14.6 points per game but his average dips four points in conference play.
There have been some brief shining moments for individual Tigers since the Big 12 season began. Sophomore guard Miguel Paul carried the Missouri offense against Nebraska on Jan. 23 with 15 points, sophomore guard Marcus Denmon put up 20 against Texas Tech on Jan. 13 and three Tigers scored 13 points or more against Kansas State on Jan. 9.
Despite occasional bursts of offensive prowess, no one has been able to sustain the success. Safford is leading Missouri with 11 points per game in conference play, which puts him outside the top-20 in the Big 12.
Even with serious scoring issues, the best thing for the Tigers to do is put Monday's loss behind them and start fresh. "It's not a sprint," Anderson said. "One thing you don't do, you don't panic."
Against Oklahoma State, the Tigers will face a team giving up an average of 68.8 points per game in the Big 12, just behind Nebraska for third-best in the conference.
On the other end of the court, the Cowboys feature the highest scorer in the Big 12. Junior guard James Anderson is averaging 22.1 points a game this season and put up 19 in Oklahoma State's win over Texas A&M Wednesday night.
In the Big 12, there is no rest for the weary. But Missouri would be well-served to get back in the win column as soon as possible.
"I think this is the toughest conference in the country," Safford said. "They're a great team, we'll be prepared for them and we'll be ready to get back on the right track."