Missouri men's basketball moves up in rankings, will start conference play

Monday, January 2, 2012 | 3:21 p.m. CST; updated 6:54 p.m. CST, Monday, January 2, 2012

One of just four undefeated teams left in the country, the Missouri men's basketball team moved up to No. 7 in this week's AP poll and No. 6 in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll.

The Tigers (13-0) finished nonconference play undefeated for the first time since the 1972-73 season with a 75-68 win Friday at Old Dominion. Missouri went 19-0 to start the 1981-82 season, but lost its final nonconference game that season to Georgetown.

Baylor (13-0) is the only Big 12 team ranked ahead of Missouri, at No. 4 in the AP poll. Top-ranked Syracuse and No. 20 Murray State are the other undefeated teams.

On Tuesday, Missouri starts a grinding nine weeks of Big 12 Conference play. The Tigers will play all nine other Big 12 teams twice each — once at home and once on the road. They will play two games each week for the next nine weeks.

Missouri coach Frank Haith said in a Monday teleconference that he thinks his team is "very capable" of doing well in conference play. 

After winning its first 11 games by double digits, Missouri faced tough tests in its past two games. The Tigers beat Illinois by four at the Braggin' Rights game in St. Louis and beat Old Dominion by seven in its first true road game. 

"There was a lot of growth, a lot of learning in those two games," Haith said. "Every time we lace 'em up in the Big 12, it's gonna come down to the last four minutes."

Other coaches around the Big 12 have taken notice of Missouri's impressive start in Haith's first season.

"They're fun to watch," first-year Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said. "Not so much fun to prepare for.”

Missouri hosts Oklahoma on Tuesday and plays at No. 23 Kansas State on Saturday.

"They've got tremendous experience," Kansas State coach Frank Martin said of Missouri. "They've got upperclassmen guards and upperclassmen front line guys — guys who have played major minutes.”

Martin also said that Missouri's record isn't a surprise to him because the Tigers were a top 10 team at this point last season. Missouri was ranked No. 9 in the AP poll and No. 8 in the coaches poll on Jan. 3, 2011.

The Tigers went 8-8 in Big 12 play last season and finished the season unranked.

Haith said that he is concerned about players getting fatigued, especially since his normal rotation includes only seven players. He said that in order for the Tigers to have success, he will have to keep his team fresh not only physically but mentally as well.

Like what you see here? Become a member.

Show Me the Errors (What's this?)

Report corrections or additions here. Leave comments below here.

You must be logged in to participate in the Show Me the Errors contest.


Leave a comment

Speak up and join the conversation! Make sure to follow the guidelines outlined below and register with our site. You must be logged in to comment. (Our full comment policy is here.)

  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Don't use language that makes personal attacks on fellow commenters or discriminates based on race, religion, gender or ethnicity.
  • Use your real first and last name when registering on the website. It will be published with every comment. (Read why we ask for that here.)
  • Don’t solicit or promote businesses.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report comment" link.

You must be logged in to comment.

Forget your password?

Don't have an account? Register here.