Missouri braces for best of Big 12

The Tigers need to beat Top 25 teams if they hope to reach the postseason.
Wednesday, January 28, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 5:25 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

Missouri is running with a tough crowd.

The Missouri women’s basketball team (10-6, 1-4 Big 12 Conference) will face all seven Big 12 teams that are ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 poll released Monday. The Tigers have lost their past 16 games to ranked opponents.

Missouri begins its run with No. 20 Oklahoma tonight. The Tigers then face No. 11 Colorado on Saturday before traveling to Austin to play No. 3 Texas on Tuesday.

Missouri then faces four ranked teams in two weeks. The Tigers take on No. 16 Baylor and No. 7 Texas Tech for the first time this season before playing a rematch against No. 12 Kansas State. The Tigers finish the stretch with No. 25 Nebraska on Feb. 25.

In preseason polls the coaches picked the Cornhuskers (14-3, 4-2) to finish 11th in the Big 12, and the media picked them to finish last.

Nebraska moved into the Top 25 after defeating Kansas State 81-63 on Saturday.

The team’s appearance in the poll came as a surprise, Cornhuskers coach Connie Yori said during a weekly teleconference

“Frankly, it was a little unexpected,” Yori said. “We are in a process here of trying to build a program and trying to take baby steps. This is a nice little step.”

Missouri has struggled early in conference play, losing four straight conference games before winning 76-49 at Kansas on Saturday. Missouri lost to Kansas State and Colorado on the road and to Kansas and Nebraska at home.

In Missouri’s first meeting against Nebraska on Jan. 14, the Tigers rallied from being down 18 to come to within one before losing 74-69.

Missouri not only needs to worry about the ranked teams it has yet to face, but also two teams it has not played yet that made runs at ranked Big 12 teams this weekend.

Oklahoma State upset Texas Tech 88-87 in double-overtime on Saturday. The Cowgirls (7-10, 2-4) lost to Texas Tech 106-43 on Jan. 10 in Lubbock, Texas.

“Saturday’s game, for us, is nothing short of a miracle,” Cowgirl coach Julie Goodenough said. “Just the strength of the Big 12 from top to bottom, and certainly we could have be considered the bottom before going into Saturday’s game, it’s just amazing what happens on a nightly basis.

“There are no given victories in this league.”

Texas A&M (7-10, 0-6) almost won its first conference game Sunday, but fell shy, losing 64-62 to No. 3 Texas in College Station, Texas.

“I think we are playing up to our limitations,” Aggie coach Gary Blair said. “The only problem is the other 11 teams in our league are usually playing to their limitations and theirs is a little bit stronger then ours right now.”

Texas Tech coach Marsha Sharp said she is amazed at how competitive the Big 12 is compared with other conferences.

“I think it’s what separates this conference from other conferences in the country,” Sharp said.

STOLEN MOMENT: Texas A&M guard Toccara Williams had a career-high nine steals against Texas on Sunday, making her the fourth NCAA player with 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, 600 assists and 400 steals.

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