Missouri lost that game to the Buffaloes 64-62 on Jan. 26, but the shot cost the Tigers more than a game. It cost them their confidence, and until a week ago it looked like it might have cost them their season.
After that game, Missouri coach Quin Snyder said his team’s psyche was fragile. Fragile teams go on skids. The Tigers went on a five-game losing streak.
Flash forward. Missouri was in a similar situation in Lincoln on Saturday. The Tigers were up 56-53 with 35 seconds left when Nebraska’s Joe McCray ran free and shot a 3-pointer. This time, the shot missed.
Missouri has now won three straight and is looking for payback when the Tigers host Colorado at 6 p.m. in Mizzou Arena.
Colorado will have an added handicap. Colorado coach Ricardo Patton announced Monday that juniors Chris Copeland, Martane Freeman, Julius Ashby and sophomore Marcus Hall will be suspended for one game for violating a team rule.
Patton said the four violated the same internal team rule and no outside agencies were involved. He did not elaborate.
Colorado’s misfortune is cause for more Missouri optimism, something there seems to be a lot of these days.
“This means a lot for us,” forward Marshall Brown said. “We can really get on a roll and start a streak. We got Colorado at home and we owe them one. We got a lot of motivation to come in and keep playing, because who knows where we can end up in the Big 12?”
A shot can go in or it can go out, it’s a matter of inches. But inches can restore hope. Inches can save seasons, and the Tigers believe that things are finally starting to go their way.
“It hasn’t been real pretty lately, but, you know, wins are wins,” Snyder said. “The environment of our practice yesterday was pretty different from the environment a couple weeks ago. I think winning is the thing kids respond to more than anything else.”
Missouri (13-13, 5-7 Big 12 Conference) is hoping to turn its good fortune into a successful streak, just as its previous bad fortune sent it on a skid.
“We’re ready now,” center Kevin Young said. “We really think we can do something. Bring on Colorado.”
But Snyder said it’s been more than luck that has the Tigers winning. It’s confidence and hard work.
”I think that one of the things that our kids have done is a better job of working on both ends,” Snyder said. “We have a great sense of urgency. That’s one of the things that we’ve taken from a game like Colorado.”
The Tigers will have an opportunity to demonstrate how they have (or have not) matured tonight. The Buffaloes (13-11, 4-8 Big 12) are desperate, having lost two of their past three including a 92-77 embarrassment to Texas A&M on Saturday.
Roby will be starting, and he’s red hot averaging 21.6 points per game in his past five Big 12 games.
Snyder said Missouri will be ready for Roby this time.
“We’ve really improved on keeping our poise when things aren’t going well and not allowing the adversity of the game to affect us. (We find ways) for us to hang in there and find ways to win when it’s not pretty.”