Jan. 13, 2012
No. 24 Bearcats try to rebound vs. SBU
By David Boyce
Sometimes the affects of a difficult loss lingers into the next game. Northwest Missouri State men’s basketball coach Ben McCollum does not believe this will happen to the Bearcats.
“I think it is tougher if you don’t compete,” McCollum said. “I thought we competed in the Central Missouri game in the second half. We really brought it and fought for it.
“I don’t think it is that difficult. You got to build on what you did in the second half.”
Northwest takes on Southwest Baptist 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Bearcat Arena in a game Northwest must win to maintain its grasp of first place in the MIAA.
The Bearcats could have had a stronger hold on first if they had found a way to win at Central Missouri on Wednesday instead of falling 63-60
Against Central Missouri, the Bearcats came out slow and trailed by as much as 17 points in the first half. They went into halftime down 38-23 and then rallied in the second half.
“We’ve had the losing record the last three years and what happens with that is there are teams you generally lose to,” McCollum said. “You almost go into it subconsciously expecting them to be better than you. It takes you awhile to see that you can compete and beat these guys.”
Nearly halfway through conference play, the Bearcats are at the point that they should know they are as good or better than anybody in the MIAA.
After not making the MIAA Tournament the last three years, the Bearcats are almost a lock this year and could get a very high seed. Northwest is 12-2 overall and 6-2 in the MIAA, a ½ game ahead of Missouri Southern and Pittsburg State, who are both 6-3.
Southwest, 10-7 and 3-5, is kind of where Northwest has been in recent years. Southwest needs to pick up every conference victory it can get just to get the seventh or eighth seed in the conference tournament.
“I think every game is just as important as the next. This is no different,” McCollum said.
“We just have to make sure we improve from the Central game in the sense of how we start games and how we compete in the first half and compete for the full 40. Against Central we didn’t do that, but hopefully against SBU we do.”
The regular season conference title is up for grabs. Four teams have three conference losses and two teams have four. Seven teams legitimately have a chance to finish first.
In years past, one or two teams break away at this point. It doesn’t appear that will happen this season.
“All of the teams are inexperienced even though they have juniors and seniors _ a lot of them don’t have returning players,” McCollum said.
“That’s our league until people separate themselves. A lot of it is who is home or away. Some teams play well against certain styles.
“Eventually there is separation and teams that lose too much start losing confidence and then the separation become even greater.”
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