It was lesson learned for Missouri Southern’s men’s basketball team last week.
Less than 48 hours after last Thursday night’s 71-68 loss at Truman State, the Lions came back with their best offensive showing against an NCAA Division II school with a 98-73 triumph at Upper Iowa.
“It was nice to our kids respond the way they did,” Lions coach Jeff Boschee said. “They responded to constructive criticism from what we showed them in the game film of the Truman State game and trying to get them to understand they can’t take nights off. And I don’t think they took a night off physically, but mentally they definitely took a night off, and it affected us.
“It was nice to see them move the ball they way they did, and also defensively I thought we were really good, causing a lot of havoc and putting pressure on the basketball and made things tough for them. Hopefully it resonates, and they have to understand that they are going to get everybody’s best shot. Just because you walk into the gym doesn’t mean a team is going to lay over. We have to be ready mentally and physically, and if we don’t have both, we’re not going to be very successful. ... Obviously we have the talent to be pretty good, but if you don’t bring it mentally and play together, it doesn’t work.”
The loss last week dropped the Lions eight spots to No. 15 in the new NABC Division II poll.
The Lions (4-1) have their final tuneup before league play begins when they play host to Culver-Stockton tonight at 7 p.m. on Robert Corn Court inside the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center.
The Wildcats (2-6) have three starters averaging in double figures — senior guard Mason Vires at 16.9, freshman guard Ray Adams at 11.0 and senior forward Troy Green at 10.0.
Tonight’s game is an exhibition for the Wildcats, an NAIA school and a member of the Heart of America Conference.
“We have to build habits and build habits the right way on what we learned last week,” Boschee said. “And be a mature basketball team and get the job done. We understand we have two tough conference opponents next week (Pittsburg State and Washburn). We’ll hit the ground running and make sure we’re doing things the right way for Pitt State on Tuesday.”
Lions junior center Cam Martin is second in the MIAA in scoring (24.0) and first in free throws made (30) and attempted (42).
Senior guards Kinzer Lambert and Elyjah Clark average 12.0 and 10.0 points, respectively. The Lions average 84.8 points and allow 65.2.
“We’ve concentrated a lot offensively trying to ... collapse the defense with faster pace and understanding how to get (good shots) out of transition,” Boschee said. “The Truman State game I felt we weren’t pushing the basketball and playing the way that we practiced.
“Defensively we’ve worked a lot on guarding the basketball, keeping the ball in front of us and emphasizing making multiple efforts. We’ve done a lot of scramble drills in practice and trying to get them to understand you have to fly around. We’ve had a good week of practice. I’ve felt every day we’ve had somewhere where we’ve gotten better.”