MU basketball Daily Links 11-18-11: Mizzou bombs away on Niagra

Brian Graham, KC SportsNation

He's Back! Kim English has hit 13 of 21 3-pointers this season.

Missouri’s lack of size has been well-documented since the last the loss of Laurence Bowers. It may end up being a blessing in disguise because Mizzou has one of the best backcourts in the nation and the best in the Big 12. The lack of size lets the Tigers utilize their talented guards and if contend for a conference championship, which I think they have a chance to do, it’ll have to be with their guards.

And Thursday’s 83-52 bombing on Niagra was another case of Mizzou’s guards leading the Tigers (3-0) to victory.

All-American candidate Marcus Denmon and the talented point guard duo of flashy Flip Pressey and Mike Dixon are what they are, but Missouri’s success this year starts with 6-6 senior swingman Kim English. English had an awful season last season, shooting 34% from 3-point range and averaging on 10 points per game, four points less than a year ago. I preached in the offseason that “Kimmie would be back.” Well he appears to be. He scored 14 points last night off 4-of-6 3-points shooting and  has the most 3-pointers made (13) and best percentage (13-21, 62%) through three games in program history. THIS IS GREAT NEWS FOR Mizzou.

Why else is English important? He is a great defensive player and is being asked to play out of position defensively as he is the second tallest player on the court most of the time. He has done just fine, too, pulling down seven rebounds and blocking two shots last night. He has done a great job so far being in great position and not allowing himself to get pushed below the block. We will see if he continues…

Denmon scored 22 points and Missouri made 12 3-pointers in blowing out the Purple Eagles (1-1), leading by as many as 40 (71-31) in the second half after leading 45-22 at halftime. Mizzou had five players in double figures, with Dixon, Matt Pressey and Ricardo Ratliffe all scoring 12 points in joining Dixon and English.

Not only is Missouri reliant on its guards to score, they shoot the 3…a lot. And so far they have done great, hitting 29 of 60, 48.4. In fact, if Missouri maintains its current pace it would set a school record and be close to an NCAA Division I record 50.8 percent by Indiana (130 of 256) in 1986-’87, the first year the three-pointer was used.

Denmon hit five 3’s for the night, 4-of-6 in the first half, the Pressey’s combined to go 3 for 5. Denmon is 8 for 16 from downtown on the season. Flip Pressey scored eight points, had five assists and five steals.
The guards are also the focal point on defense, as the Tigers quickness and speed makes up for the lack of size. Despite a new system, they continue to force turnovers. They had eight steals in the first half and finished with 13 for the game as the Purple Eagles suffered through 16 turnovers.
Missouri never trailed and quickly led 18-8.
Missouri faces stiffer competition Monday in the semifinals of the CBE Classic at Sprint Center in Kansas City, with a 6:30 contest with Notre Dame. They will face either California or Georgia on Tuesday.
Can they maintain their shooting?
***
Mizzou-Niagra LINKS:

MUtigers.com: No. 24 Mizzou hammers Niagara
MUtigers.com: Mizzou/Niagara Post-Game Notes
The Trib: Tigers bomb Niagara
The Missourian: Matt Pressey earns plenty of attention in Missouri win
The Missourian: Sloppy Joelopy debuts at Missouri game
KC Star: Mizzou rides 3-ball to 83-52 victory and 3-0
PowerMizzou: Tigers down Eagles three at a time
PowerMizzou: PHOTOS: The Baseline View

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