Missouri can find many positives in its win against No. 20 Oklahoma on Wednesday, but perhaps the Tigers’ biggest accomplishment was earning its first home win in Big 12 Conference play.
It is a consensus among Big 12 coaches that the key to success is winning at home, but Missouri failed to do that against Kansas on Jan. 10, and Nebraska on Jan. 14.
The Big 12 standings reinforce the importance of winning at home. The top six teams in the conference are a combined 17-3 when hosting Big 12 teams while the bottom six are a combined 8-11.
Missouri (11-6, 2-4 Big 12) is in eighth place in the Big 12 and is 6-3 overall at Hearnes Center this season. After the Tigers’ 77-65 win against the Sooners, Missouri coach Cindy Stein stressed the importance of her team winning its five remaining home games.
“What you’ve seen in the Big 12 is those people that have won those home games are up there and they are controlling their own destiny,” Stein said. “Obviously we want to be able to do that.”
Missouri will try to win its second straight home game against a ranked opponent and third straight game overall when it takes on No. 11 Colorado at 1 p.m. Saturday at Hearnes Center.
The game marks the Tigers’ annual ‘Head to the Hearnes’ promotion. All tickets will be $1 as Missouri attempts to break the women’s basketball game attendance record of 10,321 set against Kansas in 2002.
Colorado (16-2, 5-1) is off to its second-best start and the Tigers will need all the support they can get as they try to avenge a 71-54 loss Jan. 18 at Colorado.
In that game, the Buffaloes used an effective blend of outside shooting and inside strength to wear down Missouri’s defense.
Tera Bjorklund, a 6-foot-5 senior and All-American candidate, was 9-of-11 and scored a game-high 21 points in the team’s first matchup. Kate Fagan, a 5-9 senior, also added four of Colorado’s eight 3-pointers. Stein sees a lot of room for improvement against the Buffaloes defensively.
“I think we can do a better job on Bjorklund,” Stein said. “I didn’t think our defense was real solid that game and I didn’t feel we played with a lot of energy.
“I think we can do a lot better job on their 3-point shooters also.”
Perkins ready for Buffaloes
In the Tigers’ loss to Colorado, Missouri was without senior MyEsha Perkins, who was serving a two-game suspension for punching a Kansas player Jan. 10.
Since returning to the Tigers’ lineup Jan. 24 at Kansas, Perkins has provided a lift to Missouri’s offense. With Perkins in the lineup for Saturday’s game against Colorado, Stein said she thinks her team has a better chance of upsetting the Buffaloes.
“We were lacking some depth (at Colorado),” Stein said. “I feel a lot better going into this matchup than I did the last time.”
Aside from the game against Colorado being a chance for Missouri to redeem itself, it marks another important home game.
The Tigers cannot afford to lose many more games at Hearnes Center if they hope to finish the season in the top half of the Big 12.