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Missouri men's basketball looks to get first SEC road win

Wednesday, January 30, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CST
LSU's Anthony Hickey leaps for an easy layup against Texas A&M. LSU boasts a strong defense, and many of Hickey's point come after steals.

COLUMBIA— This year there are two very different Missouri men's basketball teams.

The Missouri team playing at home is calm, poised and patient.

The Missouri team playing on the road is tense, panicked and rushed. 

In the first possession of Saturday's 81-59 victory over Vanderbilt at Mizzou Arena, the Tigers waited for the right opportunity before shooting the ball. Missouri passed the ball seven times before point guard Phil Pressey found a wide open Alex Oriakhi for a dunk as the shot clock expired.

Even after falling behind by double-digits Jan. 22 against visiting South Carolina, the Tigers managed to rally in the second half to put away the Gamecocks 71-65.

But that was at home.

On the road, Missouri plays a completely different game and even though it has a 3-1 mark at neutral sites, it has lost all three away games.

Although they looked good for most of the game, the Tigers could not hold an eight-point lead in the waning minutes of regulation Dec. 28 at UCLA.

A hostile crowd jumped all over Missouri in its 64-49 loss Jan. 12 at Ole Miss. The Tigers could not defend and rarely hustled to a loose ball.

Then there was the Jan. 19 game at Florida where Missouri was buried 83-52 and looked shell-shocked.

The Missouri players all have different theories why they have not found success on road trips.

Pressey says Missouri's lackluster defense stems from his team's silence. He says there is no special trick to play better in away games. The solution is simple.

"As easy as it is to say that, you just have to talk," Pressey said. "The more you talk, the easier it is to switch or help guys out."

Guard Jabari Brown says the Tigers need to focus on offense more on the road, even if the team starts falling behind.

Oriakhi says he thinks the environment of a strange arena gets to his team. When Missouri gets rattled they take questionable shots.

"We have to show growth and build off the last game," Oriakhi said.

The team hopes to overcome its various struggles in Wednesday's game against LSU in Baton Rouge, La.

Although LSU's record is 1-5 in the Southeastern Conference,it won't be an easy task. LSU has played close in division games, losing just 75-70 to Kentucky on Saturday.

Missouri coach Frank Haith praised an LSU defense that averages 10.7 steals per game. Point guard Anthony Hickey has 3.8 steals per game.

"Athletically, (they're) very good," Haith said. "We've got to do a great job at taking care of the basketball."


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