Coming off their third Top-10 win of the season and their first Top-10 ranking in nearly a decade, Mizzou basketball has been put back on the map this year, but those inside the program still think this team has an even higher ceiling than what they’ve shown so far.
“Mizzou basketball is all about getting tougher, getting better, and maxing out. We haven’t maxed out yet for a game, maybe in a half, but not in a game,” said Assistant Coach Cornell Mann when he addressed the media via Zoom call today.
That statement, of course, is in reference to the Tigers' performance on Saturday in which they dominated the SEC-leading Alabama Crimson Tide for 35 minutes before having to put out a blistering comeback that resulted in a once 20-point lead being just a 3-point victory when the buzzer sounded.
Despite the nature in which they closed the game, Mann actually seemed to find it reassuring that the Tigers still haven’t put it together for a full game. That game is still coming for the Tigers, he said, as an eventful March approaches.
Jeremiah Tilmon had similar thoughts as Mann about what he himself could do better to help the team be more successful. “Just playing the full 40 minutes, you can’t take any plays off,” he said.
After coming off a big week in which the Tigers went 2-0 against tough competition, it’s easy to look at Wednesday’s upcoming game against Ole Miss as a trap game for the No. 10 Tigers, but Jeremiah Tilmon knows that. “We just came off a big win,” he said, “and Ole Miss is a really crafty team. They play hard and this will be a good challenge for us.”
One of the big challenges of playing Ole Miss is their zone defense. “With the zone, you have to move the ball a lot more than mine. Find the open guy and make the correct reads,” said Mizzou wing Kobe Brown.
Coach Mann gave a more in-depth breakdown of what the Tigers will be expecting from the scrappy Rebels defense, “They play as hard as anybody in the country… they’ll mix up things. They’ll play a 1-3-1 zone, they’ll play a 2-3 zone, and they’ll trap on the sidelines. They try and keep you off balance and mix things up. If you’re not sound and solid, obviously you can turn that ball over.”
On Wednesday, the Tigers will get their chance to attack that zone and see if they can add another quality win to an already stellar resume that has them primed for a tournament run.