Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mu Trying to Take Victory over Kansas in Stride

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Mu Trying to Take Victory over Kansas in Stride

Article excerpt

Golly, it's swell to beat those Kansas Jayhawks. And isn't it keen to be 6-0 in the Big Eight Conference?

But the perspective of Missouri basketball coach Norm Stewart - often accused of obsessing on the Big Eight - apparently is evolving.

"A championship in the league is important to the coaches and to the players who are playing," Stewart said after Mizzou's riveting 79-67 victory over KU on Monday at the Hearnes Center. "But in the overall scheme of things, I don't think it carries the importance anymore that it used to."

Such sentiments practically sound like heresy coming from Stewart, who four years ago referred to the NCAA Tournament as "icing on the cake." But after winning seven conference titles and six conference tournaments in his first 26 seasons at MU, perhaps he now is more conscious of the grand picture - and is concentrating on buffing his less-than-glossy 8-13 NCAA Tournament record. And why not?

Since Mizzou lost seven conference games in succession last season, the Big Eight has been little more than a frayed ball of yarn to the frisky Tigers. MU, ranked 20th, has won its last 10 conference games - by an average of 13.6 points a game.

In its 6-0 Big Eight start, including three road wins, Mizzou has won by an average of 14 points a game. Only one game, at Oklahoma State, was in contention in the waning moments. And in a season in which the visitor has won 11 of 21 conference games, Mizzou is the only team unblemished at home.

"They were in a little bit of a driver's seat before the game, and they're really in the driver's seat now," said KU coach Roy Williams, whose Jayhawks are in second with a 4-2 record.

Moreover, the Tigers are winning with promising ingredients - gritty defense; a diverse attack; experience and a deep bench. Under duress, MU's last 11 opponents have combined to make fewer than 40 percent of their field goals. …

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