Tigers look to notch first road win

Tuesday, January 15, 2008 | 11:40 p.m. CST; updated 4:19 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008
Coach Mike Anderson and players J.T. Tiller (left) and Keon Lawrence (right) have yet to win away from Missouri this season.

COLUMBIA — Since Mike Anderson took over as Missouri coach last season, the Tigers have been dominant at home with a 25-4 record. The problem is that MU is just 3-9 in road games under Anderson, and the team has lost all three of its road contests this year.

“Going on the road, it’s time to right the wrongs,” guard Matt Lawrence said. “We haven’t had success thus far on the road, but hopefully we can turn that around, no better time to do that than in Big 12 play.”

For Lawrence, a road win would not only be helpful when looking at these statistics, but also give the team a boost in confidence.

“I keep saying that once you get that first road win our team chemistry will just come together so much more,” Lawrence said. “Because when you win on the road, there’s just no better feeling. Hopefully we can get a couple on the road and start this Big 12 right.”

One of those three road victories last season occurred when MU traveled to Ames, Iowa to take on Iowa State, the same place the Tigers will be playing tonight. But don’t look too far into that.

“Last year don’t have anything to do with this year,” Anderson said. “They (the players) played there, but that’s probably about it. We’re a different team and they’re a different team. Our guys are playing with a little confidence and you only get confidence by winning. So we’ll have the opportunity to go on the road and see if we can continue to play some good basketball.”

The Tigers are coming off probably their biggest win under Anderson, a 97-84 victory over Texas on Saturday. In that game, MU might have found a recipe to beat a lot of the teams that are left on their schedule.

“Stick to what we did in the Texas game,” Lawrence said of what the team needs to do to beat the Cyclones. “It started with taking away what we call their head, or their best player, the player that makes them move.”

Lawrence said that Texas’ “head” was guard D.J. Augustin, and that the Tigers wanted to stop him from penetrating to the basket. With Iowa State, the focus is on two of Iowa State’s bigger players, forwards Craig Brackins and Wesley Johnson, the team’s two leading scorers.

Those two also have pretty good perimeter skills. Brackins made eight of 10 three pointers, and scored 33 points, when Iowa State lost to Baylor on Saturday.

“Our game plan is to take them out of what they want to do,” Lawrence said. “I think we took Texas out of what they want to do, and it always helps when you hit shots.”

And hitting shots will be key at Iowa State.

“Hilton Coliseum is one of those venues that is a tough place to pull a game out of,” Anderson said. “Hopefully we can take some of the shooting that we had in the Texas game, you got to shoot on the road.”

Guard Keon Lawrence knows that hitting shots is important, but not the end-all, be-all for picking up a road win.

“We’ve just got to go play defense, rebound and we’ve got to make shots on the road,” Keon Lawrence said. “We’ve got to shoot the ball well. If we don’t shoot the ball well, because you ain’t going to shoot it well every night, you got to depend on our defense.”

The Tigers have had their chances on the road this year. They lost by three at Arkansas, had an eight-point halftime lead before losing to California, and had Mississippi State tied late in the second half before losing.

Senior guard Jason Horton said that MU might have learned how to fix those problems in the Texas game. When asked what the most important thing MU must carry over from the win over the Longhorns is, he replied: “Just finishing out games. Iowa State, it’s going to be a tough place to play, we just got to come out, bring the same energy and finish out the game.”

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