During the annual Big 12 media day, Missouri head coach Mike Anderson said that he was excited about coaching this group of Tigers.

During the annual Big 12 media day, Missouri head coach Mike Anderson said that he was excited about coaching this group of Tigers.

Normal coach-speak or true musings?

After the Tigers defeated Memphis 102-91 Thursday night in the Sweet 16 — behind a career-high 23 points from J.T. Tiller, Anderson’s tone early in the season may seem more than just rhetoric.

“I thought the leadership and the ownership which I saw developing and just continuing throughout the summer months and even into the fall months before the conference meeting, that's why it was refreshing to me to have some guys that were they were in tune to one another,” Anderson said.

But, did Anderson see a trip to the Elite Eight, where the Tigers will take on Connecticut today, see it all coming?

“ I think they wanted to go out and really prove to people that they are a good basketball team. And so to be at this point, you can't see this far. I'm a visionary but not that much of a visionary,” Anderson joked.

After ending Memphis’ 27-game winning streak Thursday, Missouri has another daunting task today — the Huskies’ frontcourt of Stanley Robinson and Hasheem Thabeet.

“Day in, day out we go against guys like Blake Griffin and Cole Aldrich in the Big 12. Not to take anything from Thabeet and the rest of this team I mean, the rest of the big men, but I think they are pretty good. But I think we are pretty good ourselves,” said Missouri senior forward DeMarre Carroll.

For Thabeet, the Big East player of the year who scored 15 points, had 15 rebounds and blocked four shots, he knows that Missouri will try to draw the big man outside.

“The key is going to be the team defense, not just me. I always have my guys help me,” Thabeet said. “A lot of times I help them, so we're just going to go over there and play five as one on the defensive end and we should be able to take care of the game.”

Even if the Tigers are able to contain Thabeet, they will also have to contend with the likes of A.J. Price, Stanley Robinson as well as Hall of Fame head coach Jim Calhoun.

“It is probably the ultimate challenge for our basketball team,” Anderson said. “We have a day to catch our breath and get ready to play against a very good Husky team.”

Matthew Clark can be reached at matthew.clark@morningsun.net or at 620-231-2600, Ext. 140. Follow Morning Sun sports at twitter.com/mssports.