After a week’s worth of losing, Pingeton’s Tigers must bounce back in big fashion

After loses to Georgia, South Carolina and Mississippi State, the Tigers will have their work cut out for them if they want to secure better seeding for Nashville and the NCAA tournament.
Sophie Cunningham in action against Mississippi State.

After losing three straight games in late January, Mizzou men’s basketball did not look like a tournament team, and many questioned if the Tigers could even make it to the big dance in March.

Heading into the first week of February, the Tigers had what looked like two impossible matchups, the first on the road against a similar bubble team in Alabama and the second at home against John Calipari’s No. 21 Kentucky squad.

By the end of the week, the Tigers came out on top in both matchups, defeating a Collin Sexton-led Alabama team on the road and an, as per usual, star-studded Kentucky team at home, both by a score of 69-60.

The Tigers faced must-win situations and managed to pull things off in the end. The men’s team currently sits at a 10 seed in the latest ESPN bracketology.

While Martin’s team was finding success throughout the week, Robin Pingeton and her Mizzou women’s basketball team faced a dismal week of back-to-back-to-back losses.

The trio of games saw the Tigers lose to highly ranked opponents: No. 18 Georgia, No. 7 South Carolina and No. 2 Mississippi State. Surprisingly enough, the long week of losing didn’t have an effect on No. 15 Mizzou’s rank in the most recent AP Poll, likely due to the fact that Mizzou either kept things close or had control for a great deal of two of those matchups.

The Tigers fell flat against Georgia but had control of the game for some time against both the Gamecocks and Bulldogs. However, they couldn’t close out, shooting a combined 39.3 percent from the field in the final quarter of each game. The week saw the Tigers fall to 18-5 overall and 6-4 in conference play, setting them at seventh in the SEC standings.

After a close shave with a now 10-13 Florida team Monday night, Pingeton emphasized that Missouri’s “tough stretch” of games was far from over.

“That’s what [Florida’s] done all season long,” Pingeton said. “We watched a lot of film on them, and we couldn’t emphasize that enough. Everyone wanted to talk about that tough stretch and that stretch isn’t over. You’re in an SEC season, so that stretch, no matter who you’re playing, doesn’t stop.”

Pingeton’s assessment adds to a harsh reality that after last week, her team has backed itself into a wall it needs to get off of to find itself in a comfortable position heading into both the SEC Tournament in Nashville, Tennessee, and the first round of the NCAA Tournament come March.

The Tigers are currently sitting as a No. 4 seed in the Albany region in the latest ESPN bracketology, which would likely have them facing No. 23 North Carolina State in the round of 32 and No. 1 seed UConn in the Sweet 16, assuming they aren’t upset in the first round.

Considering SEC standings, Mizzou would currently be a No. 7 seed in the SEC Tournament, facing Arkansas in its first matchup and moving on to play No. 18-ranked Georgia, one of the three teams the Tigers lost to over their three-game skid.

The Tigers need to find themselves in better seeding going into both tournaments if they want easier paths to make a deep run, but in order to do that, they likely need to win their last six games of the regular season.

Home matchups against Kentucky and Vanderbilt, as well as road games against Arkansas and Auburn aren’t particularly daunting tasks, but Mizzou must beat No. 11 Tennessee at home and No. 14 Texas A&M on the road if it wants to find itself in a better spot in tournament play.

The Tigers’ next matchup comes against Kentucky at home on Thursday. The team needs to start there in finding its tournament-like resiliency, much like Martin’s squad found last week, if it wants to contend come March.

Edited by Joe Noser |

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