MU men's basketball team set to move on

Wednesday, December 26, 2007 | 11:04 p.m. CST; updated 8:50 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

COLUMBIA — After a heartbreaking loss in a intense, nationally televised game, it might be hard for a team to erase defeat from its memory.

In its most recent game, the Missouri men’s basketball team lost like that. The Tigers had a 58-56 lead against Illinois and were in possession of the basketball with 1:58 to play. But a DeMarre Carroll jump shot was no good, and the Tigers turned the ball over the next three times they had the ball in a 59-58 Illini victory.

With that late lead, the Tigers had a chance to end a seven-game losing streak to Illinois in the annual Braggin’ Rights game. Missing that chance makes the loss sting a little bit more. But Thursday night, Missouri hopes to take a step toward forgetting about the loss when it hosts the Coppin State Eagles. The Eagles are 3-10 this season and have not won a game on the road. They are also riding an eight-game losing streak.

“One game does not make a season,” coach Mike Anderson said after the loss to Illinois. “We’ve got a lot of basketball left. We have three more nonconference games and then from there we get right into conference play. So you don’t have time to sit around and feel sorry for yourself.”

The nonconference games provide an opportunity for the Tigers to regain some confidence. Missouri plays Coppin State, Mississippi State and the Missouri-Kansas City. Combined, those teams are 15-23.

“In the locker room everybody had their head down, we’ve got to pick our head up,” guard Stefhon Hannah said. “It’s not the end of the road, we’ve got a lot of basketball left. So we just got to come together as a team.”

A fiercely competitive game like the Illinois game should help the Tigers in Big 12 Conference play, where they will be playing teams around the same caliber as Illinois on a nightly basis.

“Coach said he tried to schedule our season with what you call the elite teams,” Hannah said after the Illinois game. “We’ve played them, we’ve been in battles. We’ve won some, we’ve lost some. It’s just going to help us in Big 12 (play), because the Big 12 is a strong conference this year.”

Missouri has four losses this season, and three of them, to Michigan State, Arkansas, and Illinois, have come by a combined seven points.

“We’ve got to learn from tough losses like this,” Carroll said. “We can’t just sit back and let the game come to us, we’ve got to go and get it.”

The Tigers spent their Christmas in Columbia, and Carroll said he thought the the isolation might help Missouri get over the loss to Illinois. He said that sometimes other students can pose nagging questions about what happened in a close game like that.

“I think we can turn it around before Coppin State and really get out there and really get together as one,” Carroll said.

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