Brian Graham, KC SportsNation
Save the best for last?
That should be the Tigers motto this season – and from tonight.
Missouri, ranked 6th and one of four unbeatens left in the nation, hosted Oklahoma in its last Big 12 Conference opener, and if it wants to leave the conference as champions, they sure set the tone tonight, rolling Oklahoma 87-49 in the Tigers (14-0, 1-0 Big 12) biggest conference win of the Big 12 era.
Missouri might have been at its best all season Tuesday. It is certainly right up there with wins over Cal and Notre Dame. And when they are, is there a team better in America? And yes, that was a serious question.
“I don’t know that we can play any better,” head coach Frank Haith said. “We played about as flawless a game as you can play.”
- Kim English was simply on fire. When he is, it ALMOST always means a win for Mizzou. Without doing extensive research, I can’t really remember a time where English went off and Mizzou lost. English made 5-of-8 from downtown Tuesday…and the rest of the team STILL went 7-of-13 from downtown, 4-of-7 coming from Marcus Denmon.
- Denmon and English combining for 9-of-15 from 3-point range will mean bad news for most opponents this year.
- Oklahoma was the fourth-best rebounding team in the nation – and best offensive rebounding team – and Missouri simply owned the glass. The Tigers had three guards (English 9, Denmon 7, Pressey 5) with as many, or more, rebounds as the Sooners top rebounder, Andrew Fitzgerald (5) as the Tigers won the rebounding battle 38-20. Wow. Once again, the four-guard Missouri lineup has not been a disadvantage, but an advantage. It creates so many matchup problems, including stretching the defense, bringing a four out on the perimeter to guard Kim English.
- Its hard to increase your shooting percentage when you lead the nation shooting 76.1%, but senior 6-8 forward Ricardo Ratliffe did it, sinking his first six shots before missing his final attempt of the night.
- Missouri shot 60% – 57% from 3. Thats going to win a lot of game. Missouri continues to lead the nation in shooting, which is absolutely amazing coming from a primarily four-guard lineup.
- Denmon and English together scored 43 points, missing just nine shots. That is production. Exhibit A why Missouri leads the nation in offensive efficiency, scoring 1.2 points per possession on the season. They exceeded that Tuesday, at 1.47.
- Stephen Pledger, the Big 12’s second leading scorer (18.3 points per game) scored just 11 points on 3-of-10 shooting.
- Oklahoma shot 33% – just better than half of what Mizzou shot.
- While Missouri shot 57% from 3, OU shot just 27 (3-11).
- Missouri’s bench, led by Michael Dixon’s 13 points, outscored OU’s 17-2.
Believe it or not, Oklahoma (10-3, 0-1), after falling behind quickly 7-0, pullled within 20-16 after Fitzerald scored eight straight points – and five of six field goals for the Sooners in a four minute span. But, it was short-lived as Missouri took control of the game moments later, closing the half on a 23-9 run and turned a 43-25 halftime lead into utter domination – leading by as many as 40 points in the second half.
Fitzgerald scored 16 of his 18 points in the first half. The rest of the team shot 4-of-19 from the field in the first 20 minutes.
FINALLY, the fans showed up. A sellout crowd watched Mizzou roll, sending Oklahoma to sixth conference opening loss in seven tries.
“It was great, it was awesome,” English said. “So proud of our fans, and the students were gone. Started the year off right.”
Kim English – 23 points, 5-of-8 from 3, nine rebounds. That is all.
Marcus Denmon – The senior from Kansas City is so good that having a 20-point (4-of-7 from 3) night is nothing special. He added seven rebounds.
Ricardo Ratliffe – The senior improved his national-leading 76% field goal percentage with a 6-for-7 night, scoring 13 points and adding eight rebounds.
Phil Pressey – The younger Pressey had a quiet day with just five points, but dished out seven assists and is on pace to have the best assists season in school history and continues to lead the Big 12 in that category. He also continued the tradition of the brother-to-brother alley-oop to older brother Matt.
Matt Pressey – The “glue player” continues to do the little stuff on a nightly basis, scoring nine points with five rebounds and also had two dunks – an alley-oop from his brother and a follow-dunk.
Mike Dixon – The junior guard appears to be struggling with his role. Is he a point guard? Is he a shooting guard? If he is a point guard, he is the scoring version. If he is a shooting guard, well, he ain’t that great of a shooter. He did lead the Tigers in three straight games prior to the Old Dominion game, including a career-high 30 point burst. When Dixon is a combo, 1.5-guard, that is when he is at his best. He returned to that Tuesday, where he dished out four assists and scored 13 points off 5-of-11 shooting, and like he has done all year, hit a huge, dagger 3.
Steve Moore – Moore scored just 3 points in 18 minutes, but grabbed four rebounds and blocked two shots. Also gloriously dove for a loose ball and received an awesome “STEEEEEVEEE” chant.
Final Thoughts: 14-0. One of four unbeatens left in the nation. Impressive start.
The haters are still gonna hate. This morning, several media members, most notably Bob “I’m the biggest tool in Kansas City” declared that Oklahoma was awful and Missouri proved nothing. This comes after many have said Oklahoma is the most surprising team in the conference. Think what you want, this was an impressive win – the biggest over Oklahoma since 1922, and its biggest conference win – other than a 45-point destruction over Colorado in 2009 – in the Big 12 era.
But, the “Missouri hasn’t played anybody (Oklahoma is a Top 50 RPI team)” naysayers will keep on keeping on until Saturday when the Tigers head to Manhattan to face No. 22 Kansas State (11-1). For those who have forgotten, Mizzou does own a win over ranked Illinois.
Oklahoma, who was picked tied for last in the Big 12 by the coaches, has held their last six opponents to 59 points or less. Missouri had 61 points with 13:50 left in the game, when a English 3 put the Tigers up 61-34.
MUtigers.com: No. 7 Tigers Rout Oklahoma, 87-49
MUtigers.com: Post Game Notes
MUtigers.com: Post Game Quotes
The Trib: Tigers roll past Sooners in Big 12 opener
The Missourian: Missouri rides selfless shooting to lopsided win
The Missourian: Steals add spice to Missouri’s win over Oklahoma
The Missourian: PHOTOS: Missouri stays undefeated with win over Oklahoma
Post-Dispatch: Mizzou mops up vs. Oklahoma
KC Star: Kim English scores 23 points as MU obliterates Oklahoma
KC Star: Ricardo Ratliffe helps Missouri dominate Oklahoma on boards
PowerMizzou: Game at a Glance: Nearly flawless
PowerMizzou: PHOTOS: The Baseline View
Fox Sports MW: No. 7 Missouri shows no signs of slowing down
Crimson and Cream Machine: OU basketball runs into a buzzsaw, gets destroyed @ Mizzou
Daily Oklahoman: Missouri routs OU men 87-49
Daily Oklahoman: Missouri dominates the boards in victory over Sooners
MUtigers.com: Phil Pressey Named One of 20 Finalists for Cousy Award
The Missourian: Recent victories keep Missouri, three others on list of undefeated teams
ESPN.com: Dick Vitale picks his top midseason awards candidates