- Associated Press - Thursday, March 31, 2011

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Missouri needs to go to its backup plan in its coaching search after Matt Painter’s decision to stay at Purdue.

Mike Anderson left the Tigers last week to take the job at Arkansas.

Missouri had offered a package worth about $2 million to keep Anderson and to lure Painter, the three-time Big Ten coach of the year, who ended up with an eight-year extension to stay put in West Lafayette, Ind.

Despite losing out on Painter, Missouri remains an attractive job.

Depending on who transfers, Anderson’s replacement could have 10 returning players from a running, pressing team that was among the highest scoring schools in the country.

Junior guard Marcus Denmon was among the Big 12’s best guards with a 16.9-point average and four others who averaged in double figures have eligibility remaining.

The Tigers made the NCAA tournament in Anderson’s last three seasons, including an Elite Eight appearance, rising from the mess at the end of the Quin Snyder era. The three-year total of 77 wins, padded by easy early season wins, is the best in school history.

Among Missouri’s selling points is its status as undisputed top dog in the state.

Junior guard Kim English urged calm on Twitter.

“Mizzou fans relax,” English said on Englishscope24. “We will be ok. We will have a coach, and he’s gonna help lead us to great things. Be patient, it’ll all wrk out.”

Missouri athletic director Mike Alden has been quiet since the start of the search, and did not return a telephone message from the AP.

A person to watch is Ben Jacobson, who led Northern Iowa to three straight Missouri Valley titles before last season. Jacobson would be considered that conference’s best Xs and Os man even if Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin was still at Missouri State.

A potential in-state candidate could be Kim Anderson, Norm Stewart’s former right-hand man, who’s been a big success at Division II Central Missouri State. Anderson has a .746 winning percentage, going 185-63, including five seasons of 24 or more wins.

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