Missouri is coming off its toughest stretch of the season in one sense.
The Tigers played three games, including two road contests sandwiched around a weekend home game, during a span of six days.
With losses at Vanderbilt and LSU sandwiched around a dominant second-half performance in a 68-47 win against Alabama, the results weren’t great for Missouri, 14-4 and 2-3 in the SEC, which plays host to South Carolina at 3 p.m. Saturday at Mizzou Arena.
Still, Missouri coach Frank Haith chose to focus on the positive and believe that his squad is close to turning a corner.
“All you can do is tell your guys to keep playing hard — keep playing and keep competing,” Haith said. “This three-game stretch here with three games in six days, I’m pleased with our guys’ competitive spirit. We were in every game. It’s going to turn for us. The ball’s going to bounce our way as long as we stay positive, keep working and keep coaching these guys.”
Since winning back-to-back games at North Carolina State and versus Long Beach State, the Tigers have alternated wins and losses in SEC play, which started with an overtime defeat at home against Georgia.
That part — the up-and-down nature of Missouri’s fortunes in conference play — is becoming frustrated for players as well as fans.
“It’s an emotional roller coaster a little bit, winning and losing these games,” junior Jordan Clarkson said. “At some point, we’re going to have to string off some games and get a rhythm.”
Of course, after South Carolina, the Tigers’ degree of difficulty from a scheduling standpoint only increases.
Missouri is at Arkansas then hosts Kentucky before road games at Florida and Mississippi. It’s a stretch of games that could define the season in terms of NCAA Tournament aspirations.