Still, Haith's personal touch is apparent, and the reason why those who have watched Missouri closely believe this Tigers team will finally tap the promise and potential never quite reached in recent seasons.
Haith managed the loss of injured forward Laurence Bowers – a preseason All-Big 12 pick – and the defections of two freshman guards, giving Mizzou a look as the class of the conference. The Tigers are also playing with more discipline and focus.
“When Bowers got hurt, I heard it from everybody, ‘Oh…,'” said Cowboys coach Travis Ford. “He's made some really good adjustments. He's put his stamp on his team. No question this team had learned to play hard under Mike Anderson, developed some great skill work. They did some really good things under Mike Anderson and were preparing for this year.
“But (Haith's) come in and definitely had to maneuver. And he's done some very good maneuvering. They are a different team. And he's done a terrific job.”
The 18-1 record marks Mizzou's best start since 1981-82. The Tigers have beaten four teams that were either ranked, or receiving poll votes when they played, highlighted by Saturday's 89-88 win at then-No. 3 Baylor.
“I watched some of the Baylor game,” said OSU guard Keiton Page. “They played tremendous against Baylor, and everybody in the country knows how hard it is to beat Baylor, much less at Baylor.
“They are playing great, great basketball right now and hitting a lot of shots and playing real fast up-tempo. We are just thankful we get the opportunity to play them here while they are No. 2 in the country. Everybody dreams of playing in games like that.”
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