Pregame thoughts: Stan Heath

In its biggest test of the season thus far, Missouri will host Arkansas on Tuesday. The same can't be said for the Tigers' opponent; the 5-1 Razorbacks played well but lost to No. 1 Illinois on Saturday, but coach Stan Heath expects a test from the Tigers. Read on for a selection of Heath's thoughts from two Monday press conferences.

On the season to this point: "Our team has been playing good basketball and we've been getting better since Day One. We had a setback against probably one of the best two or three teams in the country. We're going into this Missouri game as our first real road test in a hostile environment. I really feel this is the game that we put an ‘X' on our calendar in the non-conference schedule that we wanted to go on the road and get a win."

On his team's performance against Illinois: "It was really a defensive battle from both ends. I thought we defended outstanding in that game. In the second half, they were 33 percent from the field. I thought our pressure really wore them down in the second half. We got to the free throw line quite a bit and that's where we did convert more than anywhere else."

On the youth of his team showing against the Illini: "It was probably the first experience our team has had this season – with a new group of guys, some freshmen in there as well – that they had been in that close of a game. We just hadn't been in that before. We didn't execute the way we like to. We'll learn from that and be a better team when we get in that situation again."

On playing well but still losing: "The guys may get a few pats on the back for playing Illinois a close game. That's OK, but that's not good enough. It's important that we have no lingering effects or that we have our heads down. We have to improve...

"It's important that we put our defense in our luggage and play with intensity. We have to get off to a good start and get their crowd to calm down."

On the Tigers: "Missouri has talent. They've had a few tough losses. They are dedicating their arena, and I know there's some historical significance to that. We have to bring our ‘A' game."

On three of Missouri's weapons: "(Linas) Kleiza is a very good player. He plays as much on the perimeter as he does inside. Jason Conley and Thomas Gardner are two wing players that play with a lot of high energy. They can really shoot. We have to take them out of what they want to do."

On what the Razorbacks need to do to improve: "We have to improve our rebounding as a team and obviously our free throw shooters have to knock those down. The key is we have to get our good free throw shooters to the line. Jonathon Modica and Eric Ferguson are two good free throw shooters."

On the development of freshman center Steven Hill, a Branson native: "His strength is really on the defense end, the way he can block shots, the way he can get up and down the floor. We really have looked at maybe (fellow freshman) Charles Thomas as the guy we throw the ball in to (on offense). He's able to get himself to the free throw line and he's been more of an efficient guy inside for us.

"We want to get the ball to Steven. He has some scoring moves; he's just been a little bit hesitant to be aggressive with those moves. We've been encouraging that out of him, but that's really not his comfort zone at this particular time. Hopefully, as we get towards the SEC conference, he'll emerge and be more of an aggressive player like he shows us in practice."

On Thomas: "He is giving us a guy who is a little bit of a force inside. He's strong and gets to the free throw line. I'm getting greedy, so I would like to see him get three points instead of two free throws. For a freshman, the way he's stepped in and doesn't back down is something I'm excited about."

On Modica: "He's a guy who can get us 10 to 15 points a game, and we're not getting that from him right now. He has to be aggressive. There are things he can do that he hasn't been doing. I think he's taking the ball a little too far into the lane and not trusting his mid-range shot or his three-point shot. He's going to come around. He doesn't get the same number of touches or opportunities he has in the past, but we need him."


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