Missouri’s a mess entering the NCAA tournament

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What is with Missouri?

The Tigers couldn’t keep up with Texas A&M in Thursday’s Big 12 tournament quarterfinals, losing 86-71, for their third loss in their last four games. Once 14-1, Missouri enters the NCAA tournament at 23-10 overall. It’s reeling at the wrong time.

“They just punched us in the mouth,” junior swingman Kim English told the Kansas City Star. “And we didn’t punch back. “I just didn’t expect us to go out like that. It’s the first time in my however many games I thought we quit.

“I say ‘we’ because I’m on the team.”

English’s teammates, Laurence Bowers and Marcus Denmon, were quick to deny that the Tigers quit vs. the Aggies, but it’s clear something’s not working right now. Missouri had the fourth-best odds to win the tournament. And it didn’t even make the semis.

The Tigers are missing shots (even in recent wins, their eFG% is barely above 50) and their pressure defense isn’t forcing as many turnovers as its used to. And even in the games where teams are sloppy (like a March 5 loss to Kansas), the Tigers haven’t been able to capitalize on those turnovers.

Another concern: Missouri’s won just two games away from home in 2011. Those were against Iowa State and Texas Tech. The best team the Tigers have beat? Kansas State, way back on Jan. 17. Whether it’s Big 12 teams who are used t Missouri’s pressure scheme or if Missouri’s just in a rut, it’s a concern as the Big Dance rolls around.

At this rate, Villanova won’t be the only would-be Final Four team without any momentum entering the tourney.

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