Missouri coach Kim Anderson didn’t burn the tape of his team’s last game against Arkansas, a 33-point loss Jan. 12 at Mizzou Arena.
Of course, he doesn’t plan on forcing the Tigers to relive every gory detail of the second-worst home loss in program history either.
“I’m not going to show a whole lot of that game,” Anderson said when asked how much of the film he’ll show as Missouri prepares to play Saturday at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville, Ark. “That’s psychology, I hope.”
It’s also irrelevant in many respects.
The Tigers’ 94-61 defeat against the Razorbacks kicked off a nine-game losing streak, which was snapped last Saturday against Tennessee.
Missouri followed that victory by knocking off South Carolina on Tuesday for the program’s first consecutive conference wins during Anderson’s two seasons at the helm.
“We’re playing with a lot of confidence right now, which is great because I haven’t seen that in a while,” freshman guard Terrence Phillips.
The surge in confidence underscores the fact that the Tigers aren’t the same team that lost that game.
“Our whole demeanor and confidence going into this game is a lot better,” freshman forward Kevin Puryear said.
Missouri’s freshman-heavy rotation has 10 additional games of experience and, having already faced Arkansas’ frenetic style of play, ought to be better prepared for the rematch.
“As you go back and look at the mistakes we made, a lot of it was just getting sped up, just playing faster than we really had to,” said Anderson, who noted many of the Tigers’ multitude of turnovers in that game came in the halfcourt and not against the Hogs’ ballyhooed press. “That’s what they do a great job of. That’s what they want to do. They want to make you play out of your comfort zone.”
Perhaps the recent wins are an indication Missouri is maturing as individuals and as a team, which might make them less prone to flights of panic.
“If you watch your last couple games, we just seem like a whole different team,” said senior forward Ryan Rosburg. “I think we’re going to have a different result this time.”
If so, Rosburg, who scored 99 points in 30 games last season, will certainly be a big part of it. He’s playing like a man possessed, scoring 80 points in the last four games and also averaging seven rebounds during that span.
“Ryan’s done a great job in the past four games, but our guys have done a really good job of getting him the ball to in the right spot,” Anderson said. “I think there’s a confidence factor now with each other and, hopefully, that will continue here in the last five games.”
Losing Wes Clark, who is no longer with the team after ongoing academic issues, certainly hurts against a team like Arkansas, which puts relentless pressure on the ball.
Phillips, who took over Clark’s role as the primary ball-handler against South Carolina, played well with his increased duties.
Missouri also will rely more on sophomore guard Tramaine Isabell off the bench (with walk-on Jimmy Barton, a transfer from Houston Baptist, picking up minutes in the event of foul trouble or fatigue).
“He’s going to get an opportunity to play even more minutes than he was playing,” Anderson said, “so he becomes a guy who’s got to make good decisions with the ball and has got to be a little more solid defensively.”
There’s nothing Isabell would enjoy more than making another major contribution that helps the Tigers continue to roll.
“A two-game winning streak feels good, but we want to keep adding to it,” Isabell said.