COLUMBIA — The last three weeks have been a challenge for the Missouri women's basketball team. The Tigers played four games in a row against ranked opponents for the first time in fourth-year coach Robin Pingeton's tenure.
Their record in that stretch: 1-3.
Missouri Tigers vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs
Where: Humphrey Coliseum, Starkville, Miss.
When: 2 p.m.
Radio: KTGR 100.5 FM, 103.1 FM, 1580 AM
If the Tigers are to turn things around, now would be the time.
Missouri travels to play Mississippi State (14-6, 1-5 SEC) on Sunday, the team's first unranked opponent since Jan. 5. Missouri and Mississippi State are both riding three game losing streaks. The Tigers' five-point loss to No. 17 Texas A&M on Thursday was Missouri's closest loss of the season.
But close losses are no consolation for Pingeton. Missouri's coach and her staff work to ensure their team doesn't get too excited after big wins or too upset after tough losses.
"Absolutely, you've got to hold them accountable," Pingeton said. "You've got to keep coaching them. You can't allow them to feel sorry for themselves. You've got to demand that they make adjustments. But at the same time, you've got to make sure they're focusing on all the positive things, too."
Despite a poor 60 percent showing on Thursday, Missouri (13-6, 2-4 SEC) has typically excelled at the free-throw line this season. The Tigers lead the Southeastern Conference and rank eighth nationally, shooting 77 percent from the line this season.
That percentage increases to 86 percent when the Tigers travel to enemy territory. Senior Bri Kulas contributes largely to that percentage, shooting 90 percent from the free-throw line in road games.
Thursday's game was just the second time this season that Missouri shot 60 percent or lower from the charity stripe. The team's goal for each game is 80 percent.
Although they've struggled recently, the Tigers are still speaking confidently about where they stand.
"I really believe we are on the same page; we've got one heartbeat in that locker room," Pingeton said after Thursday's loss. "We knew it wasn't going to be easy and there's gonna be adversities, but I don't sense anybody wavering, anybody hanging their heads."
Sunday's game marks the second meeting between the two teams. Missouri looks to even the series after Mississippi State won 61-56 at Mizzou Arena last season.
Supervising editor is Mark Selig.