Until Saturday’s loss to Kansas, Mizzou was undefeated at home this season. But, one of the closest calls during conference play came against the Texas Tech Red Raiders, the team the Tigers will meet in the first round of the Big 12 Tournament on Wednesday night in Kansas City.
The Feb. 15 matchup between the two teams ended in a 92-84 win for the Tigers, but it wasn’t an easy win. Tech battled hard all night, trailing the Tigers by just one point at halftime and coming within three points with just over a minute to play. Mizzou held on for an eight-point victory, but were bothered by the Raiders throughout the game.
That game featured huge nights from Marcus Denmon and Kim English, who scored 20 and 16 points, respectively.
Now, a lot has changed for both teams since that game. Monday, Texas Tech fired head coach Pat Knight after three seasons on the job. Meanwhile, Monday also brought bad news for the Tigers, as they fell out of both top 25 polls. Granted, rankings do not mean that much once the postseason begins, but it points to how the Tigers finished the regular season. Mizzou is currently on a three-game losing streak heading into the conference tournament, and they have a date with a team they struggled to put away during the regular season.
Does this signal trouble for Mizzou against Texas Tech?
The Tigers are 5-8 away from Mizzou Arena this season, and that’s just where the Big 12 Tournament is being played. Sure, there will be a large number of gold-clad fans in attendance, with the site of the tournie just two hours away from campus. But, so was the case when Mizzou lost to Georgetown at the Sprint Center earlier this season. The Tigers haven’t played a neutral court game since they defeated Illinois in St. Louis on Dec. 22, so there’s not a lot of telling how the KC court could affect the Tigers’ play. In true road games, Mizzou is just 2-7, with their only wins coming against Oregon and Iowa State.
Combine this with how Mizzou played against Tech earlier in the year, and there could be a recipe for a tough night.
Tiger fans can take comfort in the fact that the Red Raiders are going through a much more tumultuous time with the firing of their head coach. Also, while they may have temporarily flustered Mizzou, the Raiders went just 5-11 in Big 12 play this season. Mizzou will certainly be the favorite, but it will be interesting to see if the neutral court of Kansas City is any different than the road courts the Tigers have struggled on all season.
The Tigers and Raiders will play at 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, the final game of the tournament’s first day. The winner of this game will take on Texas A&M on Thursday.