With six scholarship players, Baylor doesn’t know the first thing about striking fear in its opponents.
But it sure does have a great hypnotizing act.
Missouri’s Jimmy McKinney was one of the first to admit that.
“It was one of those types of games where they tried to make us play their tempo,” McKinney said. “They slowed the ball up a lot and we couldn’t get the crowd in it.
“It was a slow, long game.”
But the Tigers pulled out a 60-53 win Wednesday at Mizzou Arena, the first time since early January that Missouri has won back-to-back games.
The Tigers beat nationally ranked Oklahoma in overtime Saturday before beating the Bears (9-13, 1-10), who are in last in the Big 12 Conference.
“Baylor was a tough game for us to get up for,” Thomas Gardner said. “It’s one of those games where you come off of a high game like Oklahoma and our energy was up here and we were like, ‘Ah, Baylor.’”
Many fans at Mizzou Arena expressed similar feelings as Gardner.
Wednesday’s win didn’t come easy or with energy. Missouri played flat, sluggish basketball and never led by more than 10 points in the second half.
As a result, the 8,224 fans in attendance found little to cheer about.
“I knew they were (getting lulled to sleep),” McKinney said. “I don’t think they really said anything all night. I could hear myself talking to Thomas (Gardner) on the court. Against Oklahoma I couldn’t hear myself talk.”
Gardner’s play exemplified Missouri’s struggles.
The sophomore guard, who posted at least 18 points in Missouri’s past two games, had one point, three turnovers and four fouls against Baylor. He even got benched midway through the second half and was replaced with rarely used reserve Brian Dailey.
“It came to the point where our energy was down,” Dailey said. “We could have given in to their run and let the crowd bug us, or let the fact that our energy was down bug us. But for the rest of the game we went hard, battled through it and got the win.”
Still Missouri’s lack of energy bothered Gardner after the game.
“That’s the most disappointing thing right now because we’re trying to be consistent,” Gardner said.
The Tigers (12-13, 4-7) will look to establish some consistency and extend their winning streak to three at 8 p.m. Saturday when they travel to Nebraska to face the Cornhuskers (11-11, 4-7).
Coach Quin Snyder said they need to forget the past two games and play like they did against Nebraska in mid-January.
“We’re going to need to play better than we’ve played since we played Nebraska here,” Snyder said. “I think we played one of our better games against them, but they’ll be better at home, and I think they’re a team that’s playing well right now.
“Hopefully we’ll make some shots. But if we don’t, we need to have this kind of effort, a gritty, gusty performance where we guard people.”