COLUMBIA – Ryan Rosburg felt uncomfortable driving around his hometown of St. Louis this week.
A one-point loss to rival Illinois at Scottrade Center last Saturday will have that effect.
Who: Missouri Tigers vs. North Carolina State Wolfpack (9-2)
Where: PNC Arena; Raleigh, N.C.
When: 7 p.m. Saturday
Listen: Tiger Radio Network
Fast fact: Missouri and North Carolina State share one common opponent this season: Northwestern. The Tigers won by 11, the Wolfpack won by 21.
“It was weird, just driving around St. Louis and downtown,” Rosburg said by phone Friday. “It’s a tough feeling, going by somewhere you lost such a big game.”
Rosburg said the anguish from the Illinois loss served as motivation this week in practice for No. 25 Missouri (10-1). The week of preparation for Saturday night’s game at North Carolina State (9-2) – the Tigers’ first true road game of the season – was the team’s best week of practice this season, according to Rosburg.
“I think the (Illinois) game was a humbling experience for us,” Rosburg said. “We were undefeated before. We hadn’t experienced a loss as a team together, so after that happened, I think we kind of realized that we have work to do and we can be a lot better than we were.
“Everything’s been more amplified (in practice). We saw the things that led to us losing the game and we know we need to correct those to have the season we want to have.”
To have the type of season they want, the Tigers will have to play better away from Mizzou Arena. The Tigers were 2-8 in true road games last season.
“The main thing is playing together,” Rosburg said. “When you’re on the road, you have to be a team, be there for each other and support each other because you don’t have many fans in the stands cheering you on. You have to play as one unit.”
Rosburg attributed part of last season’s road woes to the team not staying even-keeled. The lows were too low, the highs too high. But Rosburg said he believes this year’s team is more mature and better equipped to handle the adversity road environments can present.
Having played 11 games before the first road game should help. Those games allowed players to fit into their roles and build a rapport with teammates on the court.
“We’ll go into the game knowing what to expect of each of us, who to count on for certain things,” Rosburg said. “That’s been established, now it’s just taking that to road games.”
What they can expect from North Carolina State is a potent offensive attack, led by forward T.J. Warren, who’s averaging 23.9 points per game. Guards Anthony Barber (12.4 PPG) and Desmond Lee (10.3 PPG) also average in double figures.
Without starting center Jordan Vandenberg, the Wolfpack lost at home to North Carolina Central Nov. 20, but have since won seven consecutive games.
“They all can score,” Rosburg said. “They’ve got good bigs, they play well together and they got a big road game win at Tennessee which is not easy to do; so we know it’ll be a really good challenge for us.”