COLUMBIA — After Sunday night's thrilling victory over Marquette in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, the Missouri men's basketball team traveled through the night only to return to an empty campus Monday afternoon.
Although most students are gone for spring break, the Tigers say they will feel the support of their fans while they spend their spring break preparing for their game Thursday against Memphis in the round of 16.
vs. Memphis (33-3)
WHEN: About 8:30 p.m.
WHERE: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz.
TV: KRCG/Channel 13
Leo Lyons said Tigers fans deserve the break.
“It’s OK. Our fans are enjoying themselves. A lot of students have probably gone to South Beach or somewhere," Lyons said. "I feel like they’ve done enough for us. They pushed us to an undefeated home season. A lot of people showed up in Boise, too, and that was a great feeling to have some fans out there.”
Zaire Taylor said the quiet campus might actually benefit the Tigers.
“Yeah I think it affects us, I think it affects us a lot," Taylor said. "I think it gives us a lot more chance to focus instead of celebrating and taking part in any other distractions that take place. I think the fact that it is spring break will be more beneficial than detrimental.”
“Nah, it don’t affect us,” scoffed DeMarre Carroll when asked if the team members would miss their fellow students. “We’re here all the time, we know our students are with us in our hearts. I had a lot of people call me and Facebook me, some all the way from Panama City. So, I know they are here with us in our hearts. Hopefully we can come back when they come back and we’ll all be going to a Final Four."
However to get to the Final Four, the Tigers have to beat Memphis then either Purdue or Connecticut in the next two rounds in Glendale, Ariz.
After joking about being tired, Tigers coach Mike Anderson spoke with reporters for about 15 minutes Monday. After discussing rebounding and comparing the play both teams get from their benches, Anderson was asked about reports he is being considered for other head coaching positions including the job at Alabama.
After being asked if he could give any reassurances to Missouri fans and alums about his plans beyond this year, Anderson responded sharply and briefly.
“We are in the Sweet 16," he said. "We are talking about the Memphis Tigers. That’s what we are talking about today.”
The Tiger’s second NCAA Tournament sendoff will be held at 1:45 p.m. Tuesday at the south entrance to the Mizzou Arena.