The Missouri Tigers will head to Oklahoma City this week for the Big XII tournament. They will look to continue the success they had during the regular season, finishing with a 25-6 record overall.
Insidemizzou.com caught up with Big XII co-defensive player of the year, J.T. Tiller.
A big part of this year's turnaround has been the solid play of the defense. Tiller's defensive contributions have been critical. The team has a much different feel going into the tournament this year than it has in years past.
"We have the right mindset this year," Tiller said. "We definitely have a lot more confidence."
A factor that the Tigers will have in their favor is depth. Because of the frenetic style basketball the Tigers play, teams get fatigued throughout the course of the game.
Mizzou is able to rely heavily on a deep bench. As many as eleven players contribute regularly; most teams don't have enough fresh players to keep up with the Tigers. Playing on back to back days should only heighten this advantage.
"It's a huge factor," Tiller said. "Depth is what we depend on."
Even with the outstanding depth, playing at such a fast pace for up to three consecutive days could wear down the Tigers. Missouri could benefit from holding back a little to conserve energy. J.T. Tiller rejected this possibility.
"Why would we change anything now? It's been good for us this year. We're going to go with what got us here," Tiller said.
Experience will undoubtedly help the Tigers in the Big XII tournament. The younger players will have to follow the example of the guys who have been there before.
"Leo, Demarre and Matt have all been there. So experience will help," said Tiller.
As the Tigers prepare for the tournament, they are trying not to look ahead. But with Missouri slated to take on the winner of Texas Tech and Texas A&M, there is the potential for a rematch. Are the Tigers looking to avenge their last regular season loss?
"We're not really worried about Texas A&M. We don't look at games as revenge games. We just try and do what we need to do," Tiller said.
Tiller and the Tigers are excited about the conference tournament. This year it seems as if the Tigers have the depth and experience to win it.
First, they will have to take care of business against whoever makes it to the quarterfinals. But J.T. Tiller and the Missouri Tigers will be ready.
Tiller, who won the Co Defensive Player of the year award in the Big 12, drew praise from his head coach.
"J.T. isn't just one of the best defensive players in this conference, he is one of the best in the country," Mike Anderson said Monday. "He is a big reason why we play such great defense, everyone else feeds off his energy and aggressiveness."
Stay tuned to InsideMizzou.com for a daily feature on the basketball team leading up to the Tiger's second round tournament game.