February 13, 2009

Tigers look to avoid post-KU letdown

Missouri fans hate to hear it. The annual refrain coming from Lawrence, KS following a Missouri win over the Jayhawks. You know how it goes. "Well, it's their Super Bowl."

>And as much as fans hate to hear it, for the last several seasons, it has been true. By mid-February, the last six Missouri teams were pretty certain they were not playing in the NCAA tournament. With that, the goal of every team in America when the season starts, out the window, beating Kansas really was about all the Tigers had on which to hang their hats.

Not this year.

"Now we've got, our fans have got, something to look forward to," Matt Lawrence said. "We can look forward to the next game. We don't just have to point to that KU game and have them show up for that one. They should show up for every game. Because every game's a big game for us."

The Tigers know they cannot allow the Kansas game to become the pinnacle of this season. Mizzou stands 21-and-4. They have a chance at a first-round bye in the Big 12 tournament, perhaps at a Big 12 title. They should play in the NCAA tournament and will spend the next four weeks trying to improve their seed in that event.

"We're trying to make sure it's not the high point," Leo Lyons said. "We're gonna forget about it real fast."

The Tigers have experienced a little bit of the overconfidence syndrome this season. Mizzou rolled into the Illinois game with just one loss and talk that this was the year things would change in St. Louis. They left with a 16-point whipping. They bounced back before the Nebraska game by winning four in a row. They got beat and looked bad doing it.

"Some of that happened early on," Anderson said of the attention and praise. "I thought it hurt our basketball team."

Missouri is again riding a four-game winning streak. On Saturday, the Tigers will again face Nebraska. This time around, they insist that's a good thing.

"I don't think it has to be drilled in because Nebraska beat us," Lyons said. "I'm pretty sure everybody's motivated. That's all everybody's been talking about is getting back at Nebraska, showing we just messed up and that we're the better team."

"This is a team that we lost to on the road, we should have beat, we played real terrible," Carroll said. "They're coming in our house. I feel like they're going to have to play our style...Hopefully we can do some things to get them out of their comfort zone and we can pick up a big win."

If the Tigers can do that, they will have a full week to enjoy being 22-and-4 before hitting the road for a game at Colorado next Saturday.

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