Saturday, Feb. 4 –
The Tigers and Jayhawks have played their last guaranteed game against each other in Mizzou Arena, but No. 4 Missouri edged No. 8 Kansas in a nail-bitter 74-71.
This game was back and forth the entire game, as both teams proved to be worthy of being called one of the ten best teams in the country, but the Tigers made more plays down the stretch to win.
Marcus Denmon, who has been playing poorly of late, turned it around in a big way. Denmon played a lights out game, particularly in the beginning of the game, and in the final portion of the second half. Denmon led the Tigers with 16 points in the first half.
The second half started slow for Denmon, but he was not going to let a rough start to the half get in his way. Denmon scored nine points in the final two minutes of play, six of those points were on two three-pointers that brought Mizzou within one, and then gave them the lead 72-71. Denmon finished the game with 29 points and fell one rebound short of a double-double.
Denmon wasn’t the only player to produce for the Tigers. Kim English had 18 points of his own and stepped up at the right time. Just as Denmon started to back off, English made some huge three pointers to keep the lead where it was at the start of the second half.
Michael Dixon was clutch down the stretch as well. He went to the line in the final seconds of the game, as the Tigers had a one-point lead, and made both attempts to seal it for the Tigers. Dixon played well overall as he had 15 points of the bench for Frank Haith’s squad.
Kansas had a good game plan, which really shined in the second half. The Jayhawks had an advantage in size at the forward position and, as Ricardo Ratliffe got into foul trouble, they were really able to take over the post.
Thomas Robinson was nearly unstoppable down low, as he scored 25 points and 13 rebounds. Steve Moore struggled against him in the second half, where he was forced to play more minutes than normal on account of Ratliffe’s foul troubles. When Ratliffe was in the game, he had to play very conservatively on the defensive end to keep from fouling out.
Kansas also matched up well against a usually dominant point guard in Phil Pressey. Phil seemed flustered the entire game, as he threw several errant passes, many of which went directly into Jayhawk hands. Phil had a very out-of-character game as he turned the ball over three times, while only adding three assists. This rattled performance caused Haith to use Dixon in his place for a majority of the game.
Following this monumental victory, the Tigers next travel to Norman in another Big 12 battle against the Oklahoma Sooners on Monday, Feb. 6.
- Tim Leible