Tigers Host Baylor in Top-10 Showdown

MUTIGERS.COM <i>Marcus Denmon and the Tiger seniors look for their 100th career wins.</i>
Marcus Denmon and the Tiger seniors look for their 100th career wins.

Feb. 9, 2012

4/4 University of Missouri Tigers (22-2, 9-2 Big 12) vs. 6/6 Baylor (21-3, 8-3 Big 12)

Game Notes vs. Baylor Get Acrobat Reader

Tip-Off: 12:47 p.m.
TV: Big 12 Network (Mitch Holthus - Play by Play / Jon Sundvold - Analyst)
Radio: Tiger Radio Network (Mike Kelly - Play by Play / Gary Link - Analyst)
Rankings: MU: #4/4 (AP / ESPN/Coaches), BU: #6/6 (AP / ESPN/Coaches)
Series: MU leads 14-10 (Last meeting: MU 89, BU 88 in Waco, Texas - Jan. 21, 2012)
Missouri: Frank Haith (Elon `88); 151-103 overall (8th); 21-2 at Mizzou (1st season)
Baylor: Scott Drew (Butler `93); 168-130 overall (10th) and 148-119 at BU (9th season)

For Openers...

    > For the third time in four weeks, the focus of the college basketball world will be on the fourth-ranked Missouri Tigers as they prepare to take on No. 6 Baylor on Saturday at Mizzou Arena in a game that features huge Big 12 titles implications. Both teams enter the game ranked in the national top 10 as Mizzou is 9-2 in league play while Baylor is 8-3. The game will air live on the Big 12 Network at 12:47 p.m.

    > Mizzou currently sits atop the Big 12 Conference at 9-2 this season, tied with Kansas, who defeated Baylor on Wednesday. Of course, it is worth nothing that the Tigers hold a tiebreaker over the Jayhawks after topping them, 74-71, earlier this season.

    > Saturday's game will mark the Tigers' third top-10 matchup for the Tigers this season, all coming in the last four weeks, beginning with a Jan. 21 win over Baylor in Waco. Mizzou is 2-0 in top-10 matchups this season (wins at Baylor and vs. Kansas) as the Tigers have claimed a pair of wins over top 10 teams for the first time since 2009 when they defeated Oklahoma and Memphis. Mizzou has not defeated three top 10 opponents in the same season since 2003.

    > Of course, Mizzou has won its last four games heading into Saturday's game with the Bears, but the last three wins have come in thrilling fashion. In fact, Mizzou has won each of the last three games by three points or less, marking the first time that has happened since 1978 in the Big 12 Tournament.

    > Staying on the topic of close games, Mizzou is 4-0 this season in games decided by one possession. That shows a major transformation from last year's team that finished the season with a 4-6 record in such games.

    > Senior Marcus Denmon needs just eight points to enter Mizzou's career top-10 in points. Denmon enters Saturday's game with 1,589 points in his career to rank 11th all-time at Mizzou just behind former Tiger great (and TV broadcaster for the Mizzou-Baylor game) Jon Sundvold, who ranks 10th on the list with 1,597.

    > As Mizzou has improved on the road this season, it is worth noting that Mizzou has been nearly unbeatable at home over the last four years. In fact, the Tiger senior class is 64-3 inside Mizzou Arena in their careers.

    > Mizzou took the first meeting against Baylor this season, 89-88, in a thriller in Waco, Texas. The win was the Tigers' first road win over a top-five opponent since 1994 and gave Mizzou a 14-10 lead in the all-time series, which dates back to 1946. With that win, Mizzou has now won four of the last five meetings with Baylor and has not lost at home to Baylor since 1948.

    > Mizzou is 9-2 in its first 11 Big 12 games this season, marking its best start in league place since 2008-09 when it opened 11-2. It is just the second time that Mizzou has been 9-2 in its first 11 Big 12 games in school history. Mizzou has also won 20 games for the fourth consecutive season, matching the school record.

    > Should Mizzou win on Saturday, it would mark the Tigers' 100th win over the past three-plus seasons, which would match the record for wins in a four-year period by a Tiger squad. The 1979-83 squads currently hold the school record for wins in a four-year period.

Mizzou Quick Hitters

    > Mizzou's 71-68 win at Oklahoma on Monday was its fifth road win of the season and its ninth away from Mizzou Arena this year. Mizzou won just two true road games last year and just six games away from Mizzou Arena. The Tigers have also won four Big 12 road games this season, a vast improvement from last year's team that had just one.

    > Senior guard Marcus Denmon is the reigning Big 12 Player of the Week after his scintillating performance against Kansas last Saturday in which he had 29 points on 10-of-16 shooting, including a 6-of-9 mark from distance. He also scored nine straight points in just over a minute to help Mizzou close the game on an 11-0 run, rallying the team from down eight with 2:07 to play. He then came back and scored a game-high 25 points at Oklahoma Monday as he is averaging 27 ppg over his last two contests.

    > It is worth noting that Denmon had been struggling by his standards in league play prior to this current two-game stretch. In fact, Denmon had just five 3-pointers on 16-percent shooting in his previous five games but has exploded for 10 3s on .526 shooting over his last two. In fact, he now ranks second all-time at Mizzou with 249 in his career. Clarence Gilbert is Mizzou's all-time leader with 332.

    > Denmon now has 25 career 20-point games following his 25-point outing at Oklahoma on Monday. With that, he becomes the 14th Tiger at least 25 20-point games in his career. Denmon is three 20-point games shy of cracking the all-time top 10 at Mizzou. Derrick Chievous is the school record holder with 68 in his career.

    > Staying on the topic of school records, sophomore point guard Phil Pressey moved from 11th to fifth on Mizzou's single-season assist list with his seven dimes at OU Monday. He now has 143 this season and is on pace to shatter Anthony Peeler's singe season Mizzou record of 179, set back in 1989-90. Pressey was named one of 11 finalists for the Bob Cousy Award on Feb. 2.

    > Despite Denmon stealing most of the headlines over the last week, junior guard Michael Dixon has been sensational over the last three games. In fact, Dixon is averaging 16.6 ppg while shooting a team-best .692 from the floor (18-of-26) with 14 assists and five steals. He had a great game against Texas, scoring a team-best 21 points on 9-of-10 shooting, including the game-winning shot with 27 seconds remaining.

    > Ricardo Ratliffe tallied another flawless shooting night, going 6-of-6 with 15 points at Oklahoma on Monday. That marked the third time this season that Ratliffe has connected on six or more field goals without a miss. A Mizzou player has done that just eight times in the Big 12 era and Ratliffe now has three of them this year - against Binghamton (7-of-7) and Villanova (8-of-8) and vs. OU.

    > A key reason for the Tigers' success in league play has been their ability to get to the free throw line. As a team, Mizzou has made as many free throws (172) as its opponents have attempted and the Tigers are shooting 76.8-percent from the stripe as a team in Big 12 play. Mizzou has shot over 80-percent from the line 12 times this season, most recently with a 19-of-23 performance (.826) against Texas Tech. Mizzou has shot better than 80-percent from the line in four of nine Big 12 games. As a team, Mizzou has shot better than 70-percent in 19 of 24 games this season and is leading the Big 12 (.767), ranking seventh nationally.

    > Overall, Missouri leads the Big 12 in eight different statistical categories: scoring offense (80.5), scoring margin (+16.2), free throw percentage (.767), field goal percentage (.501), assists (15.92), steals (9.13) turnover margin (+5.12) and assist-turnover ratio (1.49).

    > Much attention has been brought to the Tigers' four-guard lineup this season as an undersized Kim English plays the 4-spot for the Tigers. Obviously, English is one of best scorers in the Big 12 this season, but it has been what he has done defensively at the 4-spot during league play that makes the Tigers' four-guard lineup work. In fact, over the Tigers' 11 league games, the starting forward for the opposition is averaging just 6.8 points per game while committing 21 total turnovers in 11 games (1.9 per game).

    > Staying on the topic of Kim English, the senior became the first Tiger to play 40 minutes in a game since 2003 (Rickey Paulding vs. Iowa State) as he played all 40 minutes against Texas. He played in 78 of 80 possible minutes last week and added 37 more minutes at Oklahoma as he has now played in 115 minutes over the last three games. Marcus Denmon has also played in 39 minutes in each of the last two games and has played in 113 total minutes over those three contests as well, trailing only English.

    > Senior Ricardo Ratliffe continues to lead the nation in field goal percentage at 75.5-percent. He is ahead of Mizzou's all-time single season record and ahead of the all-time NCAA single season record for field goal percentage. The current record is held by Oregon State's Steve Johnson (74.6) back in 1981.

    > Ratliffe has also seen an improvement from the line lately as he is shooting 23-of-31 (74.2 percent) from the stripe in conference play, despite shooting just 19-of-33 (58 percent) in non-conference games.

    > Sophomore point guard Phil Pressey dished 12 assists with just two turnovers in the Tigers' win over Texas Tech, good for his fifth game this season with 10 or more assists. The 12 assists matched Pressey's career-best and ranks as the third-best single-game total in program history. Pressey also set a school record in the game, becoming the first-ever Tiger to post five games with 10 or more assists in a single season. Scott Sims (four 10+ assist games) had held the record in 1976-77.

    > Pressey currently leads the Big 12 in assists, averaging 5.96 per game. Should he finish the season in that position, he would become the first Tiger to ever lead the Big 12 in assists per game. Pressey is also ahead of the single season Mizzou record for assists (179 by Anthony Peeler in 1989-90). Pressey is on pace to tally 185 total assists before the start of postseason play, meaning he could break the single-season record in the Tigers' regular season home finale' vs. Iowa State.

    > Phil Pressey now has five games with 10 or more assists this season, and of course, Mizzou is undefeated in those contests. Looking into the numbers a little more, in those games the Tigers are averaging 84.0 ppg and Pressey has an assist-to-turnover ratio of 7.9. Also, the numbers show Pressey's ability to create easy shots for his teammates as Mizzou is averaging 37 ppg in the paint in those games despite running a four-guard lineup and the Tigers are shooting .505 as a team in those games.

    > Pressey became just the third Tiger to post more than one career point-assist double-double on Jan. 14 with his 18-point, 10-assist performance against Texas. The only other Tigers to post more than one point-assist double-double are Scott Sims (four from 1976-77) and Stephon Hannah (two from 2006-08).

    > A pair of Tigers are shooting better than 88-percent on the season as Marcus Denmon checks in at .902 while Michael Dixon is right on his heels at .888. That ranks the duo seventh and 18th, respectively, nationally this season. They rank 2-3 in the Big 12 as well.

    > Speaking of shooting, the Tigers rank second nationally and first among power conferences with their .501 clip on the season. Mizzou is coming off of an Oklahoma game in which it shot 74-percent from 2-point range and 56.3-percent overall. In fact, Mizzou has shot 50-percent or better 12 times this season and better than 60-percent twice. MU has shot 54.2-percent over the past two games.

    > Additionally in the national rankings, the Tigers rank fourth in assist-turnover margin (1.49), seventh in scoring (80.5), 12th in turnovers per game (10.67) and seventh in free throw shooting (.767).

    > It is of course worth noting that Mizzou's win at No. 3 Baylor on Jan. 21 was its first win over at top-five team on the road since 1994 when the 12th-ranked Tigers knocked off fifth-ranked KU in Lawrence that year.

    > Phil Pressey has been known all season for his play-making ability on the offensive side of the ball, but the Tiger sophomore has been turning opponents over at a rapid pace over the last seven games. In fact, Pressey has 22 steals over his last seven games (3.14 per contest). He leads the Big 12 with 2.33 per game this season, ranking him 17th nationally.

    > In fact, other individual Tigers are nabbing steals at a great rate. Mizzou currently has four players in the top-10 in steals among Big 12 players (Pressey, Denmon, Dixon and English). Baylor is the only other school with more than one player in the top-10, as the Bears have two. > Senior guard Marcus Denmon was named one of 25 finalists for the John R. Wooden National Player of the Year Award as the foundation announced its midseason list of 25 on Jan. 17. Denmon leads the Tigers with 18.0 ppg and is second on the team in rebounding at 5.3 while boasting an assist-turnover ratio of 1.80 with 54 assists and just 30 turnovers.

    > Those numbers place Denmon as one of the best rebounding guards in the nation. He just missed a double-double with 29 points and nine boards against KU and is the shortest player in the Big 12 that is currently ranked among the league's top 20 rebounders (17th at 5.3 rpg).

    > Senior Kim English ranks 10th nationally in 3-point field goal percentage among players with 2.0 makes per game at 47.4-percent.

    > Junior Mike Dixon has been arguably the nation's top sixth man this season as he is averaging 12.3 points per game and 2.9 assists per contest off the bench ... His 12.3 ppg average this season is first among Big 12 players with no starts this year ... In fact, he ranks first nationally in scoring among players without a start this season. Syracuse's Dion Waiters, who is averaging 12.2 points per game, ranks second.

    > Mizzou's starting backcourt (Marcus Denmon, Phil Pressey, Matt Pressey) is averaging a combined 12.1 rebounds per game this season. That backcourt does not include senior guard Kim English, who technically plays the No. 4 spot on the floor in the four-guard lineup. He averages 4.2 boards per game as Mizzou continues to have a positive rebounding margin despite running a four-guard rotation.

    > Although the Tigers have won 15 games by 10 or more points this season, the team has been strong in close games. In MU's seven wins decided by nine or less points, the Tigers scored on 29 of their 35 total final possessions to pull away with wins in all seven games. Most recently, Mizzou pulled away from Oklahoma in Norman by just three points Monday.

    > Senior Marcus Denmon ranks second in the Big 12 Conference in scoring at a 18.0 clip per contest ... The guard also is second in the conference in free throw percentage (.902) and in 3-point field goals made (2.71 per game), fifth in steals (1.5), and is eighth in 3-point field goal percentage (.396) and in overall shooting (.457).

    > Mizzou dished 20 assists in back-to-back wins at Iowa State and at home against Texas and then dished 18 at Baylor. Mizzou has now dished 20 assists in six games this season - the Tigers surpassed 20 assists just six times all of last season and did not do it once in Big 12 play. The Tigers have done it twice in Big 12 play this season. Before the back-to-back 20-assist games over those two games, Mizzou had not posted 20 assists against a Big 12 team since Feb. 6, 2010, against Colorado. That spanned 29 league games. Mizzou dished 19 assists at Oklahoma Monday.

    > Sixth man Michael Dixon combines with Phil Pressey to give the Tigers arguably the best 1-2 punch at point guard in the nation. Both were named to the Bob Cousy Watch List while Pressey is a finalist for the award that honors the nation's top point guard. The tandem averages a combined 21.6 ppg and 8.9 assists per game with an assist-to-turnover margin of 2.27 with a combined 89 steals.

    > Staying on that topic of steals vs. turnovers, Mizzou is second nationally with a steal-turnover margin of 0.86, trailing only Syracuse in that department. The Tigers have 219 steals and 256 turnovers, the latter of which gives MU just 10.67 turnovers per game, ranking 12th nationally. Mizzou is 10th nationally in steals per game at 9.13. > Mizzou has been amazingly efficient this season as it leads the nation in points per possession and is one of just three teams averaging more than a point per possession this season ... Mizzou is also No. 1 nationally in adjusted offense (Ken Pomeroy). That is a vast improvement from last year's team that finished 35th.

    > Mizzou's win over Old Dominion on Dec. 30 gave the Tigers an unblemished 13-0 non-conference record ... It marks only the second time in program history that the team had an undefeated non-conference mark, joining the 1972-73 squad.

    > Missouri finished the home non-conference schedule with an unblemished record for the sixth straight season ... The Tigers were 8-0 this year, 10-0 in 2010-11, 9-0 in 2009-10, 10-0 in 2008-09, 9-0 in 2007-08 and 11-0 in 2006-07.

    > Seniors Marcus Denmon and Kim English continue to move up Missouri's all-time scoring list ... Denmon now has 1,589 in his career, which puts him 11th all-time at Mizzou ... Denmon needs eight more points to tie Jon Sunvold for 10th all-time ... English stands at 1,400 points, good for 17th place ... He needs one more point to tie Larry Drew for 16th.

    > This year's seniors mark the winningest class in Missouri Basketball program history...The class now has a record of 99-31 after seasons of 31-7 in 2008-09, 23-11 in 2009-10, 23-11 in 2010-11 and 22-2 so far this season ... The team's 77 wins over their first three seasons mark the most in the three-year stretch at Mizzou.



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