Missouri men's basketball slips on the road

Thursday, January 26, 2012 | 5:20 p.m. CST; updated 11:12 p.m. CST, Thursday, January 26, 2012
Oklahoma State guard Keiton Page, bottom, and Missouri guard Phil Pressey, top, struggle for a loose ball during Wednesday's game in Stillwater, Okla.

COLUMBIA — Despite all of the Missouri men's basketball team's preparation — watching film, spending time in the weight room, taking countless shots for hours after practices — sometimes it's just not enough.

Missouri coach Frank Haith continues to impress on his team and the media that one loss doesn't determine the outcome of a season. But Wednesday's 79-72 loss at Oklahoma State had to hurt, coming only two days after Missouri climbed to No. 2 in the AP and ESPN/USA Today Coaches polls with a huge road win at then-No. 3 Baylor on Jan. 21.

While Missouri isn't exactly making excuses for its loss in Stillwater on Wednesday, it could attribute its second loss of the season to a combination of reckless abandon from the Cowboys and the Tigers' own numerous shortcomings.

"They played loose and easy," Haith said. "They had nothing to lose. Obviously, they’re just trying to get a 'W' in the conference, and I think when you’re young, that could have an impact on it."

The Tigers can praise Le’Bryan Nash for having an outstanding game, scoring two consecutive 3-point baskets late that put the Cowboys in the lead for the final time and gave him a career-high 27 points in the game.

"He’s just confident," Missouri forward Ricardo Ratliffe said of Nash. "He picked out good spots to make shots that he knows he can make."

The Tigers could blame it on mediocre defense, to being on the road in a hostile environment or simply the lack of focus they needed to win an away game.

"I thought we didn’t have the right mindset defensively in the first half," Haith said. "We allowed Oklahoma State to dictate the tempo of the game in how they were running their offense. I thought that our focus was not what it needed to be to win a game like this on the road.”

Haith knew all along how tough it is to win in the Big 12, let alone in road games. At one point earlier in the season, Haith said the Tigers had to be dominant at Mizzou Arena and had to win half of their road games before he corrected himself and said Missouri had to win as many road games as possible.

Missouri and other top teams in the conference, such as Kansas and Baylor, are targeted because of their high rankings, which was exemplified when Kansas narrowly beat Texas in Austin on Jan. 21.

While that added burst of emotion and energy from opponents can be negated at Mizzou Arena, it's amplified in road games and forces Missouri to play its best basketball.

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