COLUMBIA – For the second time this month, the Missouri men’s basketball team faces a quick turnaround, following a Saturday game with a Monday game.
On Saturday, the No. 2 Tigers (19-2, 6-2 Big 12) defeated Texas Tech (7-13, 0-8 Big 12) at Mizzou Arena and are heading to Texas to take on the Longhorns (13-8, 3-5 Big 12) Monday.
No. 2 Missouri (19-2, 6-2 Big 12)
at Texas (13-8, 3-5 Big 12)
WHEN: 8 p.m.
WHERE: Erwin Center
RADIO: KTGR/1580 AM, 100.5 FM; KCMQ 96.7 FM
Tigers coach Frank Haith said he thinks his team is in good shape and well-conditioned heading into Monday's matchup. That’s not to say it won’t be challenging.
“We’ve played three games in six days, four games in nine days, so it’s been a heavy stretch for us,” Haith said.
On Jan. 14 and 16, Missouri came away with victories against Texas and Texas A&M, both at Mizzou Arena.
In Saturday’s game against Texas Tech, senior guard Marcus Denmon scored 19 points for the Tigers, but 10 of those points came from the free throw line. He shot only 26 percent from the field compared to his season average of 45 percent.
“The best shooters in America have slumps. He’s no different than anybody that’s a really good shooter,” Haith said. “I think if you ask a great shooter, ‘What do you do to get yourself out of it?’ You just keep practicing.”
Haith doesn’t want Denmon’s shooting to create a mental block. Instead, he encourages Denmon to focus on other aspects of his play, like his six rebounds and three steals and the multiple charges he took during the Texas Tech game.
Another star player for the Tigers, senior forward Ricardo Ratliffe, was limited to just eight points against the Red Raiders, but that left other Missouri players wide open to take shots.
“The offense is set up where it’s equal opportunity," senior guard Kim English said. "We definitely try to get the ball in to Ricardo, but it’s a luxury to have a team with seven guys that can really get it done any given night."
Still, the Tigers struggled to make shots in the first half.
“I think if we made shots in the first half, it would seem like we played a little bit better," Denmon said. "But good teams find a way to win, and that’s what we did.”
Almost midway through the Big 12 Conference season, Haith said he thinks his team is in good shape and has followed the formula of stealing games on the road and protecting its home court.
“It’s a long season, so we’ve got a long way to go,” Haith said. “We will not play flawless basketball all year. The last two games, you’re coming off a tough loss, you knew (the Texas Tech) game was going to be a tough game, but we won. That’s a great thing for us as we move forward to Monday night.”