Coming off one of the program’s biggest wins in recent memory, Missouri players know they have to refocus as they prepare for Saturday’s home game against Nebraska.
On Monday, the 17th-ranked Tigers rallied from a 14-point halftime deficit to beat No. 16 Kansas 62-60 in front of a national television audience on ESPN.
But Missouri (21-4, 8-2 Big 12) faces another tough challenge against the Cornhuskers (15-7, 5-4), who beat the Tigers 56-51 in the conference opener.
“The win stays with you but you can’t dwell on it for too long and you kind of have to have short-term memory loss. And that’s what we are doing,” guard JT Tiller said. “We want some things to carry over from the Kansas game but we know how tough a team Nebraska is.”
Forward Leo Lyons said there’s no way Missouri will look past Nebraska.
“We’re looking forward more to Nebraska than the Kansas game because Kansas may be the big rivalry for us, but Nebraska came out and beat us last time. So we want to make sure that we take care of them,” Lyons said.
In that first game at Lincoln, Neb., Missouri fell behind by 18 and chipped away, even briefly taking the lead. But Nebraska escaped with the win.
Nebraska was able to slow down the helter-skelter playing pace of the Tigers. Cornhuskers senior Ade Dagunduro led the team with 20 points.
“They get people to play the way that they play, which is really slow,” Lyons said. “When watching the tape of that game we saw the reason that they got us to play that way, so we need to fix that because we took a lot of plays off.”
Anderson said the game “opened up our guys’ eyes. We came in there with the mind-set of trying to score. We were throwing the ball away and charging on offense and dribbling through traffic.
“We realized we needed to change our focus and it has put us in the position that we are in right now,” the coach said.
That position is one game out of second place in the Big 12, not bad for a team picked to finish seventh in the preseason. Missouri is making a strong bid to return to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2003.
The win over Kansas was just one of two wins over ranked teams in the last three games. The Tigers beat Texas in Austin on Feb. 4, with a win at Iowa State sandwiched between the Texas and Kansas games.
So there is concern for a letdown. But players said they’ve dealt with so-called “trap games” before.
“They said Iowa State would be a trap game and we came out and won there,” guard Kim English said. “We’ve grown as a team and we aren’t looking past Nebraska.”