After traveling around 7,300 miles, Missouri is probably looking forward to staying in its home state for the next eight games.
Who the 15th-ranked Tigers will face to open that stretch, however, might not make them feel too comfortable, especially after a pair of shaky performances.
Missouri will try to record its 51st consecutive non-conference home victory against surging Vanderbilt on Wednesday night.
Over the past two weeks, the Tigers (6-1) went to Mexico and back before heading off to Kansas City and Eugene, Ore. They’ll get to settle in as they’ll play their only game away from Mizzou Arena on Dec. 22 - the annual Braggin’ Rights matchup in St. Louis against No. 16 Illinois.
A change of scenery could help Missouri after it nearly blew a 20-point halftime lead Thursday night in an 83-80 win at Oregon.
The Tigers allowed 56 points over the final 20 minutes of that game after giving up 54 in the first half of a 111-102 overtime loss to then-No. 16 Georgetown on Nov. 30.
“It was stressing me out the way this game was coming out,” guard Marcus Denmon said. “I was just glad to get out of here with a win.”
The Tigers could be in for another stress test against Vanderbilt (7-1), winners of five straight.
The Commodores, who finished just outside the Top 25 in this week’s AP poll, would probably like a better start to their first road game than in Saturday’s 85-76 win over crosstown Belmont.
Vanderbilt trailed by seven in the first half of that victory before pulling away for good with a 6-0 run to open the second half.
Festus Ezeli scored 17 of his career-high 24 points over those final 20 minutes and finished with 10 rebounds.
“(Ezeli is) all-in: his attitude, his personality, and the way he trusts the coaches,” coach Kevin Stallings said. “When he got here, it was the first organized team he’d ever been on. It’s to his credit that he’s become what he’s become.”
The 6-foot-11 junior center, averaging a career-high 13.3 points and a team-best 7.8 rebounds this season, could be a difficult matchup for Missouri, which doesn’t have a player listed as taller than 6-9.
Last season, 6-11 former center A.J. Ogilvy used his two-inch height advantage to help his team hold on for an 89-83 home win over the Tigers last December. After trailing by 14 with 5:29 remaining, Missouri rallied to get within a point twice in the final 2:05 before falling short.
Ezeli did not play in that game, but Commodores leading scorer John Jenkins (18.6) had 11 points and junior forward Jeffrey Taylor (12.1) scored 18, finishing second behind Ogilvy’s 25.
Missouri junior guard Kim English led his team with 20 points but it’s Denmon that the Commodores might have to worry about more in this matchup.
Over the past four games, the Tigers leading scorer (16.4) is averaging 19.8 points and has made 15 of 24 3-point attempts (62.5 percent).
Vanderbilt leads the series 3-1 and is playing at Missouri for the first time since Dec. 8, 1958.