Tigers and Jayhawks hope to rebound

Tuesday, January 13, 2009 | 8:31 p.m. CST; updated 8:49 p.m. CST, Tuesday, January 13, 2009

When the Missouri women’s basketball team plays the Kansas Jayhawks tonight (Jan. 14) at Allen Fieldhouse, both teams will have 0-1 conference records. But the way each team lost its conference opener varies greatly.

The Tigers rallied from a 17-point deficit against No. 8-ranked Texas A&M before falling just short 62-56. Missouri coach Cindy Stein and her players remained fairly upbeat during the postgame press conference and said they thought the game was something they could build on. But there were no moral victories to speak of for Kansas on Saturday. The Jayhawks were defeated by No. 17-ranked Kansas State 72-39.

KU’s leading scorer, Danielle McCray struggled perhaps more than any other Jayhawk. She shot just two-of-12 from the field and scored only seven points, 11 below her season average.

“I thought she just played at a 100 miles-per-hour on offense,” Kansas coach Bonnie Henrickson said during Tuesday’s Big 12 coaches teleconference. “And she’s got to slow down and have that rhythm and that flow to the game.

But Stein said she is not counting on a repeat performance from McCray or any other Jayhawk for that matter. She said the Kansas coaching staff is too good for that to happen in consecutive games.

“Danielle McCray is not going to have very many of those nights shooting-wise,” Stein said. “And that’s what we expect. They’re a very good team that’s averaging 73 points and have a lot of kids that can put up really good numbers.”

Missouri (9-5, 0-1) and Kansas (11-3, 0-1) are scheduled to tip-off at 7 p.m.

CONTINUITY BREEDS SUCCESS: The Big 12 was widely recognized as one of the best conferences in all of college basketball last season. Eight of the 12 teams qualified for the NCAA Tournament and three others played in the WNIT.

But several Big 12 coaches said the conference is even better this year and many of them have stated that this is the best conference they’ve ever coached in. The reason for that improvement is up for discussion, but Texas A&M coach Gary Blair, who is in his sixth season and TAMU, has his own theory.

“The strength of your conference is the continuity of coaches,” Blair said. “If you can keep your coaches together for seven to eight years, every one of them will deliver and they’ll produce for their teams.”

“We need to make sure we have the platform to expose this conference nation-wide,” Blair said. “Because I don’t think we’re given the credit across the board, besides the pollsters, for what we’re doing.”

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