For tonight’s game against the Oklahoma State Cowboys, the Missouri Tigers mens basketball team hopes the old adage “history repeats itself” does not ring true. At least not recent history.
The situation for the Tigers is exactly the same as it was in late January. The Tigers are coming off an important convincing win against Big 12 title contenders Baylor. Then it was a 89-88 win in Waco on Jan. 21, but more recently it was a 72-57 victory in Columbia on Feb. 11. The next opponent should be familiar too. After Mizzou’s first victory over Baylor, they suffered a classic letdown game, losing to Oklahoma State 79-72 in Stillwater on Jan. 25. Tonight, the Tigers again face the Cowboys, although this time it takes place in the friendly confines of Mizzou Arena, where Missouri has not lost all season.
The win was by far the biggest for a Cowboys team that has struggled throughout the season. They have a 12-13 record, 5-7 in the Big 12, and have played “consistently inconsistent,” Chris Day said in an article for the Stillwater NewsPress. It took career highs from freshman guards Le’Bryan Nash, who scored 27 points, and Brian Williams (22 points) to overcome a huge performance from Mizzou senior forward Ricardo Ratliffe, who had 25 points and 12 rebounds their first meeting. This led to a court-storming of the students in attendance to celebrate their big win over the then-No. 2 team in the country.
Mizzou now comes into this game ranked No. 3 in both polls and riding a five game winning streak, while OSU has played .500 basketball since its marquee win over Missouri. The Cowboys were unable to capture any kind of momentum following their upset of the Tigers, losing to Texas A&M, Baylor, and Kansas while defeating Texas Tech and Iowa State. Day put reason behind OSU’s inconsistencies in his Stillwater NewsPress article.
"The inconsistency can be traced to youth and injuries. OSU guard Keiton Page is the only senior on the team.Oklahoma State center Philip Jurick sustained a foot injury against Missouri and missed the next four games. He saw limited duty in OSU’s 81-66 loss to Kansas on Saturday.Jurick clogged the middle and blocked shots before his injury. The Cowboys play hard, but [head coach Travis] Ford said inconsistent is “kind of who we are at this point.”"
It appears that Oklahoma State simply caught Missouri on an off night and, in turn, played the game that may well define their season when it’s all said and done. OSU shot nearly 60 percent from the field, while Missouri shot only 40 percent. It’s tough to beat anyone when they shoot that well, even a sub-.500 team currently seventh in the Big 12 standings. Nash, who led the Cowboys to the upset, said that there was “something different about that game” in an article written by Jared Emerson for The Daily O’Collegian, OSU’s school newspaper.
"“The atmosphere,” Nash said. “Everybody came to play tonight; everybody played hard.”"
Revenge will be on the minds of the Tigers, who are looking to keep pace with Kansas and match their 11-2 record on top of the Big 12 leaderboard. OSU is not a team that the Tigers should lose to, especially at home. But they made the mistake of overlooking them before, and cannot afford to make the same mistake twice. They cannot allow Nash and Williams, along with OSU’s leading scorer senior guard Keiton Page have the kind of shooting day they had in their first meeting. Expect Missouri to come out swinging in front of a sold out Mizzou Arena crowd and avenge their most unexpected loss to date. Mizzou has won five of the past seven games against Oklahoma State played in Columbia, and will surely hope to make it six of eight tonight.