Through the first two months of its season, the Missouri women's basketball team has raced out to an 11-2 record, despite a young, inexperienced roster.
Although coach Robin Pingeton has been pleased with the team's start, she recognizes that it's just the calm before the storm.
Missouri (11-2) at Memphis (6-5)
WHEN: 2 p.m.
WHERE: Elma Roane Fieldhouse
RADIO: KTGR/100.5 FM, WUMR/91.7 FM
"You're able to get away with some things in nonconference play that you're not going to be able to get away with in conference play," Pingeton said.
Missouri will face one more test before it begins play in the Southeastern Conference. It travels to Memphis for its first true road game Saturday.
The team has been perfect at home this season and has earned difficult wins against Western Illinois, Tennessee-Martin and Missouri State.
The Tigers' only two losses, to Green Bay and Minnesota, came on a neutral court during the Cancun Challenge tournament over the Thanksgiving holiday.
Despite the losses, Pingeton said she is glad her team had the early opportunity to play away from Mizzou Arena.
"I think we learned a lot in Cancun, I really do," she said. "I think Memphis will be another great road trip for us in regards to helping our girls understand exactly how you've got to get prepared on the road."
In Cancun, she said, the environment was challenging not because of hostile opposing fans, but because of a general lack of fans in the stands. The challenge will be different in Memphis, though Elma Roane Fieldhouse seats only about 2,500 fans.
Missouri defeated Memphis last season at Mizzou Arena, and will face a 6-5 Memphis squad this year.
After Saturday, the competition will get much tougher. The Tigers will begin SEC play Jan. 3 at No. 6 Georgia. After a home game against Auburn and a road trip to No. 13 Tennessee, Missouri will host No. 7 Kentucky.
After a short holiday break, Pingeton said she's excited to hit the ground running.
"No matter how much you talk about it and try to prepare your team for it, it's just experience," Pingeton said. "Getting thrown out there and living it and playing in that environment. We've just got to continue to stay the course and get better every day."