Brian Graham, KC SportsNation, via Southwest Airlines en route to Vegas
There is something about the Sprint Center this year that the Tigers enjoy. And whatever it is, if the Tigers keep this up, they will be the 2012 Big 12 Tournament Champions.
The Tigers have are now 3-0 in KC this year, and none of the games have been close, winning by an average of 30 points. In fact, this 88-70 win over Oklahoma State was the closest of the three…and this game was not close. Missouri led by as many as 29 points early in the second half before packing it in and cruising to victory as the masters of garbage points – Keiton Page and the Cowboys, poured in the points late.
The Pokes nearly tripled their first half points in the second half, but never threatened the Tigers (28-4), who flat out dominated short-handed Oklahoma State in the first half in impressive fashion.
Kim English scored 21 first-half points in carrying Missouri to a halftime lead then handed the keys over to fellow senior Marcus Denmon who scored 17 second-half points.
The duo combine to score 51 points on 20-for-27 shooting. Missouri is going to win everytime that happens. And they are going to have a great chance of winning when they average 1.42 points per possession and shoot 67% in a half, like they did in the first half. I have said it several times this year, and I will say it again. In ALMOST every game this year, the Tigers have had stretches where they are unguardable and look unbeatable. When the Tigers are playing at the level they were playing in the first half last night, they are unbeatable.
English’s 27 was two shy of his career-high set earlier this year and Denmon scored 13 straight at one point in the second half.
“We love Kansas City,” Denmon said. “It is Missouri after all.”
The blowout is just what a team with a short bench like Mizzou needs if its going to play and win three games in three days: pound the living daylights out of your opponent in the opening 10-15 minutes, then coast.
“Our intensity was high,” head coach Frank Haith said.
All three walk-on bench players got into the game, and it was so bad in the first half that there was an Andrew Jones and Jarrett Sutton sighting in the first half. Jones hit a free throw in each half – marking the first time that he had scored against Big 12 competition this season. Sutton, another KC native, was on the floor eight minutes into the second half and played a season-high six minutes. He scored a season-high six points on 2 3’s in this building earlier this year in the 92-53 destruction of California.
Page, The Pawnee Pistol, opened the game with a 3 and hit a two a few minutes later, tying the game at 6. Ricardo Ratliffe went to the bench with his second foul. Then Missouri took over, scoring 15 straight to open up a 21-6, and continued the run, opening up a 41-17 lead in what was a 35-11 run.
At that point, with 3:08 left in the first half, English had 21 points, the rest of the team had 20 and Oklahoma State had 17. Complete domination. A minutes later, Missouri, who shot 59% for the game, led 47-18 the end of what was an incredible 41-12 run.
“We were slow motion,” Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford said. “They were fast motion. Their defense was just stifling. They played with such great energy. We were tired. I could see it. They’re a veteran, experienced, physically tough basketball team. They might not be the tallest team, but they are a physical team. We’re just the opposite. We’re young. And they were playing to their strengths. Their defense led to offense.”
“When they’re playing to their strength, there are not many teams better in this country,” added Ford, whose team went 15-18.
The Pokes, who also got 21 points from Brian Williams, were playing without Le’Bryan Nash who had 27 points in the win over Missouri at Stillwater and six other players that were on the roster at the beginning of the season.
The Tigers opened up a 74-43 lead halfway through the second half, matching their biggest of the game (70-41, 47-18), before taking the foot off the pedal. Oklahoma State followed with a 17-3 run to pull within 77-60, but it was well over.
News and Notes
- It was great to see both the Oklahoma State and Missouri fans give Page a standing O as he left the court with 48 seconds left in the game. I love watching the little dude play. Even watching him get open is fun to watch. Be prepared to run through some screens if you are guarding him. He scored a team-high 22 points and hit 6-of-12 3’s. He scored 7 of Oklahoma State’s first 11 points and scored 15 garbage points on 5-of-8 3-point shooting in the second half.
- Phil Pressey was outstanding, and again showed how he can impact a game and be in control without even scoring. He had eight assists and four steals in the first half. The Big 12 leader in both areas, finished with 12 assists and five steals. With 12 more assists, Pressey will crack the Top 10 ALL TIME at Mizzou…in his second season. He already is the single season record holder with 203 (6.3).
- Some quick impressions of English, he is so much better around the rim now than inthe past. He finished several times last night, something he rarely did in the past. He is so much of a different player now than in past. He plays defense. He does so many more things to help his team win than just shooting 3’s. Not bad for a 4 stuck in a 2’s body.
- Missouri outrebounded Oklahoma State by 20 and was +30 in points in the paint. Thats a good recipe for success. Mizzou also dished out 22 assists, had eight steals, shot 67% from 2, 41% from 3 and averaged 1.34 points per possession for the game.
- Dixon scored a pedestrian 13 points, but dished out a season-high seven. Dixon is at his best when he is 1.5 guard.
- Ratliffe played just 23 minutes because of foul trouble and shot 50% (5-10) as his field goal percentage continues to drop. Still, 11 and 6 in 23 minutes is not bad.
- Matt Pressey played in the flow of the offense for the second game in a row. This is great news for Mizzou fans. He scored seven points.
- With 29 more points, Denmon and English will pass Kareem Rush and Clarence Gilbert for third place highest scoring duo in Mzzou history.
- Denmon led the team with 8 boards last night, marking the 10th time the 6-3 guard has led the team this year.
- Mizzou has 30 20-point games this season by five different players.
Texas upset Iowa State last night 61-55, which I expected, as the Longhorns were the more hungry team, needing the win to get closer to their 14th straight NCAA appearance. I also expect Texas to lay an egg tonight. Head coach Rick Barnes wrote on the board last night NIT and NCAA and asked his team which one they wanted to go to. They will have a let down tonight as they were playing for an NCAA tourney berth last night. That said, if J’Covan Brown – who set a Mizzou Arena opponents record with 36 points in Columbia – gets going, he is capable of carrying a team on the shoulders. But even in that game Texas lost easily and the same was the case in Lawrence last Saturday. Missouri needed a Mike Dixon left-handed lay-in and a defensive stop to win in Austin, so Texas can hang with Mizzou.
For the seventh year in a row, Iowa State lost their first game of the tournament.
Even if Missouri loses tonight (which I don’t expect) I’d rather play Texa$$ than Iowa State. With a win, Missouri advances to their fourth Big 12 title game. Many Missouri fans – and the players alike – want Kansas again, to settle the score.
“We just want to win a Big 12 Championship,” English said after the Kansas loss in Lawrence Feb. 25. “I don’t care if we have to play Fort Hays State. We want this as bad as we wanted the Big 12. That’s why our loss (at Kansas) hurt so bad. It was the Big 12 championship game. We just want to win a championship. It’s not a chip on our shoulder.”
As much fun as another game against Kansas would be, I’d rather play Baylor, of course. What if this Border War does not live up to expectations? That said, it would still be awesome. This is one year I can actually say, “bring on Kansas.”
It only seems like destiny.
First things first, beat TexA$$.
MUtigers.com: English Lifts No. 5 Mizzou Past Cowboys, 88-70
MUtigers.com: Post Game Notes
The Trib: Tigers blitz Cowboys in Big 12 quarterfinal
The Missourian: PHOTO GALLERY: Missouri beats Oklahoma State
The Missourian: Mini-Mizzou brings home atmosphere to basketball games at Kansas City tournament
KC Star: Mizzou blasts OSU 88-70, faces Texas in Big 12 semis
KC Star: MU Notebook | English breaks free
Post-Dispatch (Bryan Burwell): English does it all for Mizzou in tourney opener
PowerMizzou: The Baseline View
PowerMizzou: PMTV-HD: Off and Running
Big 12 Sports: Kim English Leads Tigers Over Cowboys
Fox Sports MW: English leads No. 5 Missouri past Oklahoma St.
Hank’s Sports Blog: No. 5 Missouri cruises past Oklahoma State into Big 12 semifinals
Daily Oklahoman: Cowboys doomed by another bad half
Rush the Court: Missouri Punishes Undermanned Oklahoma State Team
ESPN.com: Rapid Reaction: Mizzou 88, Oklahoma St. 70
ESPN.com: VIDEO: Marcus Denmon
RockMNation: Know Your Semifinal foe: Texas