The numbers have been stated. Analyzed, discussed and analyzed some more. And still, they bear repeating. In two SEC road games, Missouri has been outscored 20-0 before the Tigers put a point on the board. In a combined ten minutes, Mizzou fell behind Florida and Ole Miss by 11 and nine points, respectively.
In home games against South Carolina and Vanderbilt, Missouri's coaches did the best they could to make sure the trend would not continue.
"Last couple games, we've had two plays we want to start the game with. They're post entries and trying to get the ball inside or they're movement plays where we want a certain number of passes," Frank Haith said. "I think that's something we need to do. Instead of just going out and playing, we want to have a set what we want to do the first couple possessions."
Against South Carolina, Missouri's first two shots were three-point shots. But off an offensive rebound, the Tigers scored first on a Tony Criswell offensive rebound and putback. Against Vanderbilt, Haith said he wanted at least seven passes. The Tigers made 12 and got a layup from Alex Oriakhi with less than five seconds on the shot clock. Haith said that possession set the tone for the entire game, a dominating 81-59 win.
Of course, those games were at home. Missouri returns to the road for a 7 p.m. tipoff on Wednesday night at LSU.
"We have to show growth and we have to build off our last game," Oriakhi said.
There is an old saying about the best laid plans. Missouri can talk all it wants about getting off to a better start on the road. But early turnovers, missed shots and easy baskets surrendered have a way of derailing even the most meticulous game plan.
"Sometimes you try to get it all back in one play, even though there's no ten, 12-point shots," Jabari Brown said. "It doesn't sink the game plan, the coaches still want us to, but I think sometimes in the back of your head it can kind of start to mess with you and make you do uncharacteristic things."
"It's important because the coaches spend a lot of time coming up with the game plan and a scouting report and ways that they believe that we can win," Keion Bell said. "If we don't start off doing the things that they believe we need to do to come out with a victory, it can be a long day for us."
Missouri's point guard, the man most in charge of getting them in the right positions on offense, says it actually all begins on the opposite end of the court.
"I feel like our biggest thing that we have to do is play defense on the road," Phil Pressey said. "That's gonna stick with us whether we're hitting shots or not."
Missouri is 4-2 in the SEC, third in the standings, but searching for its first true road win of the year. LSU is 1-5 in the league, including home losses to South Carolina and Florida.
Tipoff is at 7 p.m. Central and the game will be televised on the SEC Network.
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