On Tuesday, Kentucky lost their fourth true road game of the season. This is what we had to say about the Wildcats:
One of the most telling ways to determine whether a team is “for real” is whether or not they can win on the road, especially in conference play.Its not an easy thing to do. You have to deal with everything from raucous crowds and heckling students to friendly whistles and helpful scoreboard operators to something as simple as tired legs from traveling and sleeping in a hotel room.
The mark of a quality team and a team that can win come tournament time is whether they can perform against quality competition and handle inferior competition in a road arena.
Which is why Kentucky now has a bright and bold red flag attached to their name.
Replace Kentucky with Missouri, and the same is true.
The Tigers lost at Oklahoma State last night 76-70. With the loss, the Tigers drop to 3-4 in Big XII play. That loss normally could be written off to travel issues — Mizzou left for Stillwater early on Monday and didn’t arrive until 2:00 pm Wednesday for an 8:00 pm tip thanks to the weather — except for the fact that all four of Missouri’s Big XII losses have come on the road.
The biggest knock on Missouri has been that their press is ineffective against teams with quality back court play and similar athleticism, but Oklahoma State has neither.
For the Tigers, the issue hasn’t necessarily been poor shooting or rebounding or execution on the road. It has been slow starts. They got down big to Colorado ad couldn’t dig out of the hole. The same thing happened last night. Against Texas, the Tigers never had a chance to dig out of the hole, and had the Longhorns hit their free throws, Mizzou would have lost by 25.
“We got a chance once again to see what life is like on the road in the Big 12,” said Missouri head coach Mike Anderson after the game. “Every night you have to show up. We didn’t play the brand of basketball we’ve been playing this year. And you have to credit Oklahoma State because they did a great job of attacking us.
“We aren’t going to make any excuses but at the same time it was a different schedule than we usually have. We flew in [Wednesday] and it seemed like it took us a while to get into any rhythm, especially early on.”
Missouri has to be able to come out of the gates playing their typical brand of basketball even when they don’t have the home crowd to fire them up.
Because they aren’t going to be playing any home games come tournament time.