Missouri men's basketball looks to improve against North Florida

Friday, November 19, 2010 | 6:09 p.m. CST

 When asked if his team’s play on Thursday was on par with its No. 15 ranking, Laurence Bowers answered bluntly.

“Of course not,” the junior forward said.

“A No. 15 team would win, and that’s what we did. But as far as playing to the best of our ability, I don’t think so.”

The Missouri men’s basketball team showed considerable room for improvement in its 66-61 season-opening victory against Western Illinois on Thursday at Mizzou Arena. The Tigers shot poorly and botched multiple attempts to put the game out of reach, allowing an uncomfortably close score to linger until time expired.

The lesson the Tigers learned is twofold. All opponents must be taken seriously, and the ranking tagged on the front of the Missouri name only gives those opponents more incentive to win.

“We’ve got to stay humble and not look at anybody’s jersey that we play,” Bowers said.

For Missouri coach Mike Anderson, his team’s ranking is not a concern. Instead, he wants to focus on winning one game at a time, with each game showing improvement from the last.

“We are a work in progress,” Anderson said more than once after the game.

Missouri will have plenty of opportunities in the near future thanks to five games scheduled before Dec. 1. 

“We’ll get better. We’ll get a lot better,” Anderson said.

The Tigers’ next chance to get better comes Saturday when Missouri welcomes the North Florida Ospreys (1-2) to Mizzou Arena for the second round of the Cancun Challenge.

The Ospreys also won their first game of the tournament Thursday, defeating Wyoming 76-60 in Laramie, Wyo. North Florida mounted a 26-8 run in the final 12 minutes to secure the come-from-behind victory.


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