Failing to win on the road in the Big 12 has put Missouri in a precarious position in its drive for a third consecutive NCAA tournament berth.
The 19th-ranked Tigers, though, have the conference’s only unblemished home record and have a chance to improve their resume during consecutive games at Mizzou Arena, beginning with Saturday’s matchup against Oklahoma.
Missouri lost for the third time in four games and dropped below .500 again in Big 12 play with a 103-86 defeat at rival Kansas on Monday night. While they shot a solid 51.7 percent, the Tigers (18-6, 4-5) also allowed the second-ranked Jayhawks to shoot 60.7 percent - 66.7 in the second half.
“When we went into halftime we really thought we were going to win this game,” said forward Laurence Bowers, who had a team-best 19 points. “They went on a run … and the next thing we look up and we’re down 10. Then we’re down 15. Defensively, we didn’t do the things we were capable of. But offensively, we executed.”
While losing all five road games in conference play, Missouri has given up an average of 86.0 points on 50.7 percent shooting. During their 14-0 start at home, the Tigers have allowed 62.6 points per contest on 37.9 percent shooting and outscored opponents by an average of 23.8 points.
They follow this matchup with Tuesday’s home game against Texas Tech before playing three of four on the road.
“We have an opportunity to get back to the court and have an opportunity to play at Mizzou Arena,” coach Mike Anderson said. “You want to get that bad taste out of your mouth, especially the second half of the Kansas game.
“As I told our guys it’s a seven-game season now. Every game is an important game … We just have to get better.”
Missouri will try to begin that improvement by adding to a four-game home win streak over the Sooners (12-11, 4-5). Three of those victories came against ranked Oklahoma teams, but the Tigers have dropped two of three overall in the series, including a 66-61 defeat last season.
Missouri shot 35.9 percent in that loss and Bowers was the only Tiger in double figures with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Oklahoma’s second-leading scorer, senior guard Cade Davis (12.6 ppg), finished with 15 and 11 rebounds - then a career high - and was one of four Sooners with at least 10 points.
Oklahoma enters this game following back-to-back defeats and with an 0-4 mark against Top 25 teams after shooting a season-worst 32.1 percent in Wednesday night’s 68-52 loss to third-ranked Texas.
Sophomore Andrew Fitzgerald, averaging a team-best 13.8 points and 5.3 rebounds, had 16 points but was 6 of 16 from the field.
The Sooners, who dropped to 11-2 at home with that loss, have lost 13 of 14 on the road with the lone win coming in overtime against last-place Iowa State on Jan. 29.
“We just need to stick together as a team and follow the scouting report,” guard Steven Pledger said. “Know what (opponents) want to do, what we talk about in practice and things like that. I think if we limit turnovers and things like that, we’ll definitely start winning again.”
Oklahoma leads the series 112-94, but Missouri holds a 60-31 edge in Columbia.