After Missouri’s overtime loss to Oklahoma State on Tuesday at the Sprint Center, coach Kim Anderson perfectly defined his agony.
“I don’t want a program where we get a standing ovation for losing by two points,” he said.
If not their best game of the season, the Tigers played one of the top two. And they lost both times in heartbreaking fashion, 74-72 to the Cowboys and 62-59 on a buzzer-beater 10 days earlier to Illinois in St. Louis.
Both games showed progress for a team that couldn’t keep up with other power teams on the schedule — like Purdue, Oklahoma and Xavier. The Tigers lost those games by an average of 19 points.
One nonconference game remains before Missouri, 5-7, heads into Southeastern Conference play. The Tigers play Lipscomb of the Atlantic Sun Conference at 4 p.m. Saturday at Mizzou Arena.
Among the encouraging moments for Mizzou against Oklahoma State was its willingness to battle when the situation bordered on hopeless.
The Tigers had coughed up a 12-point lead in the second half and trailed by five with 19 seconds remaining.
But Johnathan Williams III buried a deep three-pointer, and after Oklahoma State made one of two free throws, freshman Tramaine Isabell’s last-gasp three went down, forcing overtime.
On an inexperienced team, Williams’ confidence and leadership emerged in critical moments.
“I’m trying to help carry my team by developing my game,” Williams said. “I’ve got to put this team on my back and lead … but I failed because we didn’t get the win.”
Signs of continued improvement are on the line against Lipscomb, 5-8, which has lost three of its last four. The Tigers could hardly have played more evenly against two top-65 RPI teams. Lipscomb (No. 273 on Friday) isn’t one of those, but the first SEC opponent, LSU on Thursday in Columbia, is.
“We just need to get over the hump,” Anderson said. “We’ve had two really good games, but we haven’t been able to finish them off.”