The Missouri basketball team has five days to regroup after its most lopsided loss of the Big 12 Conference season, an 84-65 shellacking at the hands of second-ranked Kansas on Monday night in Lawrence, Kan.
Lopsided losses have become the norm for the Tigers inside Allen Fieldhouse, where they have lost 11 straight, including six by double-digit margins. In six of the previous 10, they managed to recover and win the next game, something they'll try to do again Saturday when they play host to Oklahoma State at Mizzou Arena.
"I think it's one game," coach Mike Anderson said after the game. "It's not a sprint. One thing you don't do is you don't panic. I've been around this game a long time. Whether it be one, whether it be 21, we didn't play well, but a lot of teams here don't play well."
Monday night's loss did mark the continuation of an alarming trend for Missouri. For the fifth straight game, the Tigers failed to shoot even 40 percent from the field. Their 19-for-68 (27.9 percent) shooting performance against the Jayhawks dropped their already Big 12-worst shooting percentage to 35.6 percent in conference play.
"You look at the kind of shots," Anderson said. "We're an attacking team, a slashing team, so when you start settling, that's what happens."
It has happened too often, and it's putting a lot of pressure on Missouri's defense to shut down the opposition. It has been able to against opponents like Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Nebraska -- three teams in the bottom half of the Big 12 standings -- and that has kept the Tigers in those games. But tougher tests are in store for the Tigers, including key home games against the Cowboys and Texas A&M in the next nine days.
KANSAS 84, MISSOURI 65: The Tigers managed to stay in the game longer than they did in last season's 25-point rout in Allen Fieldhouse, but the result felt largely the same.Cole Aldrich dominated the inside with 12 points, 16 rebounds and seven blocks and Marcus Morris scored 17 points and grabbed nine rebounds as Kansas overpowered Missouri and won its nation-leading 54th consecutive home game.
The starting frontcourt players helped the Jayhawks pile up a 56-28 rebounding advantage. They also outscored Missouri 36-18 in the paint, including 28-6 in the first half as they opened up a 20-point advantage.
Justin Safford scored 19 points to lead the Tigers in the loss, but even he missed 10 of 15 field-goals attempts on a night when his team shot a season-worst 27.9 percent from the floor.
That, and the team's inability to keep Kansas off the glass, prevented Missouri from staying competitive even though it force 23 turnovers and held KU senior guard Sherron Collins to six points on 2-for-11 shooting.
--Missouri has forced each of its opponents into double-digit turnovers, including 15 that turned it over at least 20 times. The Tigers continued to lead the Big 12 in turnover margin (plus-7.3) as well as steals (12.1) as the week began.
--Shooting accuracy has become a concern for Missouri in Big 12 play. After shooting 47.5 percent against nonconference opponents, the Tigers began the week ranked last in Big 12 games, shooting 37.8 percent during their 3-1 start. They then shot just 27.9 percent in the loss at Kansas.
ON THE SPOT: Kansas manhandled Missouri on the boards, outrebounding the Tigers 56-28. Mike Anderson's team has been undersized all season, but it was troubling to see the lack of fight they put up against the Jayhawks' bigger, stronger frontline. Kansas had 18 offensive rebounds and turned them into 17 second-chance points. With bigger teams like Texas, Baylor and a rematch with Kansas looming on the schedule, the Tigers will have to figure out a way to be more competitive at pulling down caroms.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Every game's a big game in the Big 12, and that's the point you want to make sure your kids understand." -- Missouri coach Mike Anderson.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
SEASON RECAP: Missouri is off to a 3-2 start in the Big 12 and looking as if it will contend for a finish in the upper half of the conference after being picked seventh in a preseason coaches' poll. Winning close games, however, will be key. The first three conference games the Tigers played were decided by six points or less before they broke away from Nebraska in the final minutes of a 70-53 win on Jan. 23. Missouri figures to play with anyone at home after padding its win streak in Mizzou Arena to 31 with the Nebraska victory.
Missouri 94, Texas Tech 89 (OT)
Oklahoma 66, Missouri 61
Missouri 70, Nebraska 53
Kansas 84, Missouri 65
vs. Oklahoma State, Saturday, Jan. 30
vs. Texas A&M, Wednesday, Feb. 3
at Colorado, Saturday, Feb. 6
vs. Iowa State, Wednesday, Feb. 10
IN FOCUS: Oklahoma State is coming off a road upset at Kansas State and features the Big 12's top scorer, G James Anderson, who can be deadly coming off the constant picks set by his teammates.
--Junior forward Justin Safford seemed to be the only player willing to attack the interior with any regularity in Monday night's loss at Kansas. His aggressiveness earned him 10 free throws, and he hit eight of them on his way to a career-high 19 points. Safford has been quick to throw up jump shots for much of the season, so seeing him take the ball to the basket was a positive development for Mike Anderson's team and a sign that he might be feeling healthier after coping with a sprained ankle and bone spur earlier in the season.
--Senior Keith Ramsey gave the Tigers an unexpected offensive lift when he dropped in two 3-pointers in the first 2 1/2 minutes to help MU pull out to an early five-point lead against Kansas. Offensive production continues to be unreliable from the 6-foot-9 forward, who came in averaging 5.7 points and finished with only eight.
--Sophomore guard Kim English had been the Tigers' most dependable scorer during the nonconference season, scoring at least 20 points on six occasions. But his 20-point outing against Texas Tech is still the only time he has scored in double figures this season. His field-goal percentage dropped to 28.3 percent after his 3-for-13 shooting performance. English is only average defensively and struggles handling the ball, so when his shots aren't falling his value drops markedly.