To all of these excuses and others yet to be created, I say, "stop the madness!"
Call it like it was, Iowa played an exceptional game, were extremely well prepared, and dictated the entire game to Missouri.
Frankly, I can't remember a game when Missouri was controlled more in the Hearnes Center than Saturday's game versus Iowa. The Tigers looked out of synch, frustrated and impatient all night long.
And that wasn't all. The Tigers didn't fight through their offensive sloppiness by hustling on defense and diving for loose balls. Missouri spent most of the night looking flat-footed and frankly, rather listless.
The game started out pretty sloppy on both sides, but nobody looked more lost on the court than Wesley Stokes. Stokes had problems finding his man on defense and regressed significantly on the offensive end. When he wasn't taking quick outside shots, he was making bad passes.
Missouri's two top scorers weren't much better. Rush was 4-18 and Gilbert finished 1-11 from the field. Yes, there was some cold shooting from the Tigers in this game, but credit Iowa's stifling defense as the primary reason these two reliable scorers were all but shut down.
Mizzou's lone bright spot was the play of Sweet Rickey Paulding. Paulding lit up for 22 points, on an 8-12 shooting night. Paulding also displayed equal grace attacking the basket or draining outside jumpers. Paulding has earned more playing time and should see more action against Illinois.
Perhaps most perplexing of all is why Missouri didn't press Iowa for most of the game? The Hawkeyes have shown a significant vulnerability to the press all year long and Missouri has the players and the depth to be a sucessful pressing team. By keeping the tempo of the game at the half court level, the Tigers played right into Iowa's strength.
Missouri is back in action on Saturday in St. Louis vs. Illinois in the traditional Braggin' Rights game. Hopefully, the Tigers will have a good week of practice and regain some of the hunger and edge that they displayed in earlier games this season.