COLUMBIA, MO - JANUARY 14: Michael Dixon #11, Matt Pressey #3 and Phil Pressey #1 of the Missouri Tigers lead the team out of the locker room prior to the game against the Texas Longhorns on January 14, 2012 at Mizzou Arena in Columbia, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Missouri Tigers' Called True Contender For NCAA Championship After Baylor Win

The Missouri Tigers will take on the Baylor Bears in a key Big 12 Conference matchup on Saturday against two of the nation's Top 5 teams.

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Missouri Tigers Called 'Legit Final Four Contender' After Win Over Baylor Bears

There’s a lot of people paying attention this morning to the way that the Missouri Tigers handled the Baylor Bears on the road at Waco yesterday in the weekend’s best college basketball game. As the No. 5 Tigers came to town, very few believed they could actually pull off the upset — doubting the lack of size and the long-term ability of Frank Haith to succeed as head coach at such a high level this season. Turns out that Missouri handled Baylor much better than the 89-88 final score would have you believe.

Now the words used to describe Missouri have moved from pretender or questionable to terms like contender and likely Final Four candidate.

“Twitter loves Missouri, and it’s in love with Phil Pressey,” writes Fasulo. "The most talented guard from the most talented group of guards in the country, Frank Haith’s ability to mitigate a lack of height is impressive. Sure nothing a guarantee, but with the media searching high and low for a few more Final Four caliber teams to join Kentucky and Syracuse, I think this team is more than adequate to claim the “elite’ distinction.”

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Frank Haith Leads Missouri To Huge Road Win Over Baylor

A number of factors led to Missouri’s big road win over Baylor, but none was more important than the preparation that Frank Haith and his staff made before the game even started.

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Missouri Tigers' Called True Contender For NCAA Championship After Baylor Win

“No one had Missouri winning in Waco,” wrote CBS Sports’ Jeff Goodman.

Therein summarizes many opinions around the country as to the legitimacy of the Missouri Tigers men’s basketball team as a national contender, currently sitting at No. 5 in the country. Heading into Baylor’s campus to take on the No. 3 Bears this afternoon, some people didn’t give them a chance. Goodman says he was wrong.

“It appeared to be the ultimate mismatch. Mizzou’s lack of size and depth on the road against the endless length and big bodies that reside in Scott Drew’s program. Missouri’s non-conference body of work had been questioned. Then the diminutive and short-handed Tigers went on the road and got smacked in Manhattan by Kansas State a couple weeks ago. There were those — myself included — who needed to see more from Frank Haith’s club.”

It was Missouri’s dominance all over — even in unexpected areas like rebounding — that turned the heads of its critics like Goodman.

“The final score, 89-88, wasn’t indicative of how Missouri controlled this game. It was Mizzou dominance. On the perimeter, in the paint. Just about everywhere. It’s about time we started taking this team seriously. Yes, as a Final Four contender.”

Now the challenge for head coach Frank Haith might be to not let the praise get to the players’ heads. For now, it must be noted by everyone that Missouri is a real contender and that Haith has done a remarkable job.

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Missouri Win Over Baylor Called 'One Of College Basketball Best Road Wins This Season'

Today’s game between the Missouri Tigers and the Baylor Bears was set to be the best game of the day. Little did Frank Haith’s team realize that they would pull off arguably the best road win of the year in college basketball. The fifth ranked Tigers went on the road against the Bears to pull off the 89-88 in Waco and give the Tigers an anchor win for a possible No. 1 seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament.

“This was one of the most impressive road wins by any college basketball team this season,” writes Jason King. “Missouri had an excellent game plan that led to loads of open looks for the Tigers. Frank Haith’s squad has done a tremendous job of bouncing back from a Jan. 7 loss at Kansas State. Missouri is a legitimate top-5 team and is good enough to win a national championship.”

Missouri’s next game comes on Wednesday night against the Oklahoma State Cowboys.

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Missouri Tigers Hope To Copy Kansas Jayhawks Performance And Results Against Baylor Bears

The Baylor Bears men’s basketball team came into this week’s span of Big 12 conference play feeling good about their position. Actually that would be an understatement for a team that was undefeated before facing Kansas and showing the nation overall just how great their athletic brand is after the tremendous season of the football team as well. After their last game in Lawrence, however, the mood wasn’t quite so high. Kansas dominated Baylor in the second half of their much-hyped match-up and brought the Bears back to earth. Now Missouri hopes to do the same in today’s game that pits two of the three best Big 12 teams against each other.

“No. 3 Baylor returns home to face another huge Big 12 test after falling from the ranks of the undefeated Monday at Kansas,” writes the USA Today’s Eddie Timanus. “This time the Bears are up against No. 5 Missouri. The Tigers entered the week second in the nation in field goal accuracy and feature three-point marksmen Marcus Denmon and Kim English. But the Bears might find more favorable matchups inside, especially if Perry Jones III and Quincy Acy hit the offensive glass.”

Today will definitely be a clash of styles and only one can come out on top. If Missouri can beat Baylor as well, then the upcoming Missouri-Kansas match-up will only bring that much more attention and bragging rights.

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