Missouri basketball has chance to get two quality wins this week (VIDEO)
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
COLUMBIA, Mo. — The resume is blank.
Missouri can’t claim any marquee wins, nor is it stained by any bad losses.
The Tigers (7-0) have a chance to pick up a pair of resume-boosting wins this week as Missouri plays host to West Virginia and No. 18 UCLA at Mizzou Arena.
“Every game is important, but there’s no question … if you have success against (power-conference) teams that I think will do very well in their conferences, that definitely helps your resume,” Missouri head coach Frank Haith said.
Yes, it’s never too early to start talking about the NCAA Tournament. Key non-conference victories can prove to be huge boosts for an at-large tournament berth.
West Virginia sits at 6-2 with losses to Virginia Tech and No. 9 Wisconsin, while UCLA boasts a 7-0 record.
“These two wins are going to be big resume wins for us, non-conference games that we really need to win,” Missouri forward Ryan Rosburg said. “With them coming here, we shouldn’t be scared. We haven’t lost here in a long time. We’re really excited for the challenge.”
Missouri owns a 22-game winning streak at Mizzou Arena, the longest homecourt streak in the country. The last home loss for the Tigers came Feb. 21, 2012, against Kansas State.
Missouri managed non-league wins against Stanford, Virginia Commonwealth and Illinois last season, which helped the Tigers earn a No. 8 seed in the NCAA Tournament. A pair of wins this week would go a long way in the eyes of the selection committee.
“We know it will play a role come tournament time,” Missouri guard Jabari Brown said.
West Virginia comes to town for a 6 p.m. tip-off Thursday (ESPN-TV), while UCLA travels for an 11:30 a.m. game Saturday (KRCG-TV).
“We’re excited about this week,” Haith said. “This week’s a big week for us. You look at what’s going on at Mizzou. Our football program and what they’re doing Saturday, and our volleyball team and what’s going on there this weekend. Then you throw in basketball with what we have Thursday playing West Virginia and UCLA on Saturday. I think it’s just a big week for our university from an athletic standpoint.”
There’s been a slow build-up to this point for Missouri.
The Tigers began with games against Southeastern Louisiana, Southern Illinois, Hawaii, Gardner-Webb and IUPUI before traveling to Las Vegas for tougher contests against Northwestern and Nevada.
Now comes this pair before tilts with Western Michigan, Illinois, North Carolina State and Long Beach State.
“It got tougher out in Vegas and obviously now it takes another step as you look at the next games in succession,” Haith said. “It definitely gets tougher and tougher as we get toward league play. There’s no slippage the rest of the way.”
Realistically, UCLA and Illinois might be the only non-conference opportunities that hold up as resume-builders come March. So it’s best to take care of business as much as possible.
“We didn’t want to slip up and lose one of the early games either,” Missouri point guard Jordan Clarkson said. “These games are just as important as the games we played before.”
There’s truth to that. Wins in these games are just as important as avoiding losses in those earlier contests.
The eye’s already on March. A couple wins this week would be a great first step to get there.
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