Carlynn Savant knows what life on the road is like for any basketball player. The constant boos and trash-talk from unruly fans can sometimes be enough to affect anyone’s game.
But Missouri, at least to Savant, gets a different reaction when it takes the floor on the road.
“Other places it’s like ‘Here comes Mizzou’ and it’s like crickets,” Savant said.
On Saturday in Columbia, though, it was anything but quiet at Mizzou Arena. Missouri came out to a loud ovation from the crowd of 4,589, the largest of the season. They left to an even bigger one after the Tigers claimed sole possession of second place in the Big 12 Conference after their 65-51 victory over Texas Tech. Missouri has yet to taste defeat in its 11 home games.
In one season, the Tigers have seen Mizzou Arena go from an easy place to play for opponents— the Tigers went 5-8 at home last season— to a true home-court advantage.
“It’s just a totally different atmosphere,” Savant said. “Last year we didn’t give (the fans) a whole lot to get into.”
Despite the success Missouri (15-4, 5-2) has had this season, the team is actually drawing fewer fans than it did last season and remains near the bottom of the conference in average attendance for home games.
But there is a difference on the court Savant said.
“A lot of times it gets so loud that you can’t hear and (senior guard) LaToya (Bond) is kind of quiet anyway,” Savant said. “I’m like ‘What? What?’ But that’s why we use hand signals.”
Away from the friendly confines of Mizzou Arena, the Tigers remain a .500 team and Bond said that though the team takes pride in winning at home, it needs to be better than 4-4 on the road.
“When it comes time for the tournament we’re not going to be playing at home,” Bond said. “So we have to get used to playing on the road... we have to stick together.”
Bond battles grant: Somewhat lost in the shuffle of the battle in the post between Texas Tech’s LaToya Davis and Missouri’s Christelle N’Garsanet was the play of Bond against Player of the Year Candidate Erin Grant. Bond and the Missouri defense forced five turnovers from Grant and held her to nine points on 4-of-14 shooting. Texas Tech coach Marsha Sharp said Bond’s athleticism gave her team fits throughout the game.
Bond scored in a variety of ways by either running Grant into screens or creating her own shot off the dribble. She scored 10 of her 16 points after a slow first half, five minutes of which were spent on the bench because of foul trouble.
“I was definitely frustrated on the inside,” Bond said. “My teammates could probably tell by my reactions on the bench.”
Missouri coach Cindy Stein said Bond set the tone for the team’s second-half turnaround.
“I thought we needed to get a little more aggressive in the second half offensively,” Stein said. “LaToya generates a lot of that because she’s so tough to guard.”