When Missouri plays Iowa State tonight, there more at stake than just a basketball game.
Both teams are trying to keep postseason hopes alive.
The Cyclones (15-10, 7-7 Big 12 Conference) are on the bubble for the NCAA tournament, and the Tigers (14-14, 6-8) need a couple of wins to get an NIT invitation.
Missouri coach Quin Snyder said in a conference call Monday that it is better to focus on the aspects of the game rather than winning or losing.
“I think the best thing you can do is take care of the basketball,” Snyder said. “I know it sounds kind of cliché, but that’s what our team really needs to focus on.”
Snyder said the Tigers need to concentrate on carrying out a game plan. For him, it is important that his players continue to grow so they have a foundation to build on next season. He said he’d like to play in the postseason but good play is more important.
Iowa State coach Wayne Morgan has the same mindset as Snyder and said the post season is too far away for him to be worrying about now. The Cyclones need to win out and have a good conference tournament, but Morgan is focusing on tonight’s game.
“I’m a day-to-day guy,” Morgan said. “Not a week-to-week or two-or-three week. I’m just not good at that.”
The Cyclones have had plenty of time to improve since the Tigers came back late in the second half to win 62-59 on Jan. 8. Snyder said Iowa State has improved in the short period of time.
“I think you’ve just seen their team kind of break out,” Snyder said. “You’ve seen (Curtis) Stinson, (Will) Blalock and (Jared) Homan not just continue to play at a higher level but to take other guys to a higher level.”
Morgan said his players have learned how to close a game out.
“I also think that if we get into a position with a lead and have a chance to win a game, we have a better idea of how to do that,” Morgan said.
Snyder isn’t the only person to take notice of Stinson’s play. He is one of the best players in the Big 12 and even has a shot at earning the Big 12 Player of the Year award. Stinson is leading his team in points (17.7) and steals (2.4) and is second in rebounds (5.5) and assists (4.2).
Missouri has to play try to contain Stinson in one of the conference’s toughest places to play. Hilton Coliseum in Ames is legendary for the trouble it causes opponents.
“They have great support up there, and because of that it’s a very difficult place to play,” Snyder said. “It’s a place they play with an extremely high level of confidence when they’re there. They just expect to win.”