LEXINGTON, Ky. — The sound of preparation echoed through the sparsely filled arena as the Missouri men's basketball team practiced for its upcoming game.
"Talk to your teammates," yelled Tim Fuller, Missouri's associate head coach, as his players ran up and down the hardwood of Rupp Arena in Lexington on Wednesday night in a practice session open to the public.
No. 8 seed Colorado State (25-8)
vs. No. 9 seed Missouri (23-10)
WHEN: 8:20 p.m.
WHERE: Rupp Arena, Lexington, Ky.
RADIO: KTGR/1580 AM, 100.5 & 103.1 FM
No. 9 seeded Missouri was getting ready to play Thursday night in its first game of the 2013 NCAA Tournament against No. 8 Colorado State.
"I don't hear you talking," Fuller kept yelling over and over.
The Missouri players responded loudly.
Throughout the week the Tigers have been constantly saying they have "their work cut out for them" against the physical Rams.
Like Missouri, Colorado State is a strong rebounding team. The Rams are fourth in the nation in rebounding, averaging 40.4 per game. Missouri is second in the nation with 41.4 rebounds per game.
Colorado State forward Colton Iverson leads his team in rebounds averaging 9.8 per game, and fellow forward Pierce Hornung averages 9.2.
"I think me and Laurence (Bowers) match up pretty well because we're able to rebound and score in the post as well," said forward Alex Oriakhi in a news conference before the practice. Oriakhi leads Missouri in rebounding averaging 8.6 per game.
"I think it's going to be a great game, but a great battle," he said.
Missouri also has to worry about Colorado State guard Dorian Green, who leads the Rams in scoring, averaging 12.8 points per game.
"He's an outstanding player," Missouri head coach Frank Haith said. "He plays with such intelligence, great pace. He can shoot the ball. They're obviously a different team when he's not out there."
Missouri showed in its practice that it did not want its season to end on Thursday night.
Tigers guard Jabari Brown yelled in his deep voice from the sideline, hands on his hips and sweat dripping, "With passion!"
It got even louder as the court reverberated with the sound of Tigers yelling words of encouragement to each other, almost drowning out the constant squeak of sneakers and rattling of rims. The handful of fans watching applauded the increased energy on the court.
"I got you," yelled Missouri point guard Phil Pressey as he skipped a ball to a teammate cutting to the basket for a layup.
As practice ended, a fan yelled "M-I-Z" and the entire team responded with a spirited "Z-O-U" as they left the court.
The Tigers looked happy, smiling as they signed autographs and joked with one another, savoring each moment in case the season were to come to an abrupt end.