COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) -- Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel, whose team is the latest to fall prey to Missouri's relentless game plan, believes the 15th-ranked Tigers could be a dangerous wild card in the NCAA tournament.
"They have a style that's difficult to prepare for," Capel said after the fourth-ranked Sooners' 73-64 loss Wednesday night. "They have guys who bought into their system. DeMarre Carroll is having a first-team all-league type season, and I personally think Leo Lyons is their most talented player."
Oklahoma was hounded into 22 turnovers, one off its season worst, and the point total was by far a season worst for a school averaging 80 points.
"They have a great mix of veteran guys and young guys and they're well-coached," Capel said. "They're a good team that will be difficult to deal with in postseason."
Alabama-Birmingham won two games in the 2004 NCAA tournament under Anderson, including an upset over top regional seed Kentucky, and won its opening game in 2005. Missouri (25-5, 12-3 Big 12) is poised for its first NCAA appearance since 2003.
Having short memories has helped Missouri players cope. The Tigers shrugged off a 25-point blowout loss at Kansas three days earlier, and were in control throughout against Oklahoma. They also made strong responses after similar stumbles on the road against Nebraska and Kansas State.
"We know if we do the right thing, we can beat any team in the country," forward Lyons said.
The Tigers wind up conference play on Saturday at Texas A&M before the conference tournament next week in Oklahoma City. They're tied for second with Oklahoma while owning the tiebreaker, and one game behind Kansas after the Jayhawks stumbled Wednesday at Texas Tech.
"Basketball is an interesting game and a lot of different scenarios can take place," coach Mike Anderson said. "You just have to take care of what you can take care of."
Missouri finished 18-0 at home, winning by an average of 26 points with a 2-point nailbiter over Kansas the only close call. Running the table is especially impressive when it's considered that Missouri was 16-16 last season.
"We've beaten some good teams, so it just tells you that they're the ultimate team and they respond to their fans," Anderson said. "It's all about momentum. The louder that place gets, the better our team plays."
Missouri has won eight of nine overall behind emerging depth and the 1-2 inside punch of seniors Carroll and Lyons. The 6-9 Lyons has been a constant challenge, frequently getting pushed by his coach to push himself.
Anderson said Lyons used to take the criticism personally but now realizes it's for his own good and the team's good. During pre-game ceremonies on senior night, Anderson stepped out of his coaching personna.
"I told him, 'I love you, Leo," Anderson said. "You should have seen the smile come across his face."
The pre-game ceremonies hit the hardest on Carroll, who wept uncontrollably. After getting 15 points and 10 rebounds against Oklahoma for his sixth double-double of the season, he flashed back to the Tigers' troubles his junior year that included him getting shot.
"I don't want to talk about it right now because I might get emotional again," Carroll said immediately after the game. "It's been a great career at home and I love Mizzou and I'll always be a Tiger."
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)