COLUMBIA – Short spaces and long gaps have made up the Missouri men’s basketball schedule for the past two weeks.
Since Jan. 28, when they faced Texas Tech at Mizzou Arena, the Tigers have been playing home games on Saturday and road games on Monday.
No. 6 Baylor (21-3, 8-3)
at No. 4 Missouri (22-2, 9-2)
WHEN: 12:30 p.m., Saturday
WHERE: Mizzou Arena
RADIO: KTGR 1580 AM, 100.5 FM; KCMQ 96.7 FM
TV: KMIZ/Channel 17
The tight turnaround doesn’t leave them much time to prepare for their next opponent, but it does prepare them to work within time constraints.
“I think the good thing about that whole transition was it prepares you for the NCAA tournament,” Missouri coach Frank Haith said. “Whereas, you are in one site, you don’t travel, but that’s the kind of turnaround you have. You play Thursday-Saturday or Friday-Sunday.”
In a tournament situation, the Tigers would still have only one day of rest between games, but they wouldn’t have to travel like they have been.
Sophomore guard Phil Pressey said he enjoys the quick turnarounds because the team gets to play more games and practice less, but it requires toughness for the team to succeed.
“You just have to be mentally tough because playing two games in three days, you’ve just got to have your mind ready because your body’s going to be tired,” Pressey said.
The quick turnaround has another advantage, too. It gives the team the rest of the week to prepare for its next opponent.
Haith said his team likes having more time, no question.
After Monday’s game at Oklahoma, the team had Tuesday off and went hard in practice on Wednesday. Haith likes having his players play two-minute and four-minute games to keep them sharp and in sync, but fine-tuning things becomes the focus as the team gets closer to tipoff.
“Those games, you get a lot of rest during the week, but it’s a long week. You get to prepare well, so the coaches like that, I’m pretty sure,” Pressey said with a chuckle. “But for the players, it’s just a long time to wait to play.”
Junior guard Michael Dixon, however, said it seems like the days have been going by quickly.
“This is a great break for us,” Dixon said. “I think we’re going to be ready on Saturday.”
The No. 4 ranked Tigers will face the No. 6 Baylor at 12:30 p.m. Saturday at Mizzou Arena. With Baylor’s loss to No. 7 Kansas on Wednesday, Missouri and Kansas are tied for first place in Big 12 standings. Both have 9-2 conference records while Baylor dropped to 8-3 in the Big 12.