Missouri Notebook

Tigers know they have to win to reach NCAA tourney

Updated: 2014-02-28T04:14:05Z

By TOD PALMER

The Kansas City Star

After losses at Alabama and Georgia in the last week, Missouri knows that it’s squarely on the NCAA Tournament bubble, but it also knows there’s only one way to change that and reached the 68-team field for a sixth straight season.

“You’ve got to win,” Tigers coach Frank Haith said. “That’s what you’ve got to do. There’s a lot of basketball left to be played. There’s no reason for our guys to think that we’re not going to play in the postseason. We’ve got opportunities. As long as there’s games left on your schedule, you’ve got an opportunity. And we’ve got games left on our schedule the last time I checked.”

Missouri has three games remaining before the SEC Tournament, which begins March 12 in Atlanta.

That’s three chances to affect its postseason fate, beginning with Mississippi State on Saturday at Mizzou Arena. Texas A&M arrives Wednesday for the final home game of the season.

“We have an opportunity here with two home games to get ourselves back in terms of getting some confidence back,” Haith said. “I think it was shook a little bit.”

The Tigers wrap up the regular season March 8 at Tennessee.

Clarkson, Brown pressing

Juniors Jordan Clarkson and Jabari Brown each scored 17 points Tuesday in a loss at Georgia, but the duo shot a combined nine for 29 to get there in an uncharacteristically inefficient performance for both players.

“I sensed that in the Georgia game that both those guys are pressing,” Haith said. “And it’s because they want it so badly. Those guys want to be in the NCAA Tournament. I saw things out of both those guys, taking shots that they haven’t taken all year.”

Haith sat down with his two leading scorers Sunday to review film and point out a few times where Clarkson and Brown were trying to do too much in an effort to get them to relax.

“It’s because they want it so badly, and I love them for it,” Haith said. “We’ve just got to get them to continue to understand to let the game come to them, the way that they’ve been doing it all year, trust one another and trust your teammates.”

To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to tpalmer@kcstar.com. Follow him at twitter.com/todpalmer.

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