February 24, 2009

Tiller, Taylor look for redemption against K-State

Shortly after Missouri's last loss, Mike Anderson stood outside the visitor's locker room in Manhattan, KS and lamented the play of his starting guards. Nearly a month later, the coach hasn't changed his tune.

"Our guard play was not very good in that first game," Anderson said this week. "Hopefully, we can get more leadership from our guards this time. In the first game, it was them playing as individuals."

In that first game, an 88-72 loss which is still the last defeat on Missouri's resume, J.T. Tiller and Zaire Taylor combined to score just ten points. Even worse, the duo piled up eight turnovers, splitting the responsibility with four apiece.

In six games since the massacre in Manhattan, Tiller and Taylor have combined to turn the ball over only 12 times. In four of those games, Tiller has not had a single turnover, and five of the duo's miscues came in the 62-60 win over Kansas alone.

But the performance at K-State still sticks with both Tigers.

"Just knowing I could have played better is motivation. I had my career high in turnovers," Taylor said. "I've got some making up to do now. It's a good opportunity to make it up to my teammates, to coach, to the fans. It's a good time to make it up to myself."

"I want to prove to myself that I can do better, and I know I can," Tiller added. "We've got to come out strong."

The struggles in that loss were not limited to the offensive end. Jacob Pullen, Denis Clemente and Fred Brown combined for 50 points in the game. The Wildcat trio of guards connected on 19-of-33 shots, including 11-of-17 from three-point range.

"The difference in that game was those kids (K-State's) shot the ball real well," Anderson said. "Guard play is very, very critical in any game, and last game was one of the worst games of their careers."

For the Tigers to keep their Big 12 title hopes alive, that will have to change on Wednesday night.

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