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Missouri men's basketball team exacts revenge vs. Oklahoma State
COLUMBIA, Mo. -- If seeking revenge for one of its only two losses this season was on No. 3 Missouri's mind, the Tigers kept that goal in the locker room Wednesday night.
"Just business," Missouri guard Kim English said after an 83-65 rout of Oklahoma State that wasn't nearly as close as the final score suggested. "But we definitely remembered how we didn't perform in Stillwater."
Marcus Denmon scored 17 points, Ricardo Ratliffe and sixth-man Michael Dixon both had 15 points and English and Phil Pressey scored 13 apiece for Missouri (24-2, 11-2), which is tied with No. 4 Kansas for first place in the Big 12.
Keiton Page led Oklahoma State (12-14, 5-8) with 23 points, but 14 of those came in the game's final seven minutes when the outcome wasn't in doubt. He hit 5 of 9 attempts from beyond the arc.
Missouri held Cowboys freshman Le'Bryan Nash to 11 points after he torched the Tigers for 27 in a seven-point win in Stillwater in January. Nash sat out five minutes early in the first half after picking up two quick fouls.
"It did frustrate me a lot," Nash said. "As soon as I got that second foul, as soon as I went out, they went on their run. I fell like it was partly my fault because I got stupid fouls. If I would've stayed in the game, it would have probably been a different game."
Missouri started slow, making just one of its first six shots, which helped the Cowboys take an early four-point lead. But the Tigers soon found their shooting touch, and it fueled a 23-4 run over nine minutes in first half that helped Missouri put away the game.
The Tigers led 44-22 at halftime and by as many as 35 points with seven minutes remaining before a late Oklahoma State run with several Missouri starters on the bench.
English, the primary Missouri defender on Nash, said he learned what not to do after the prolific scorer had a career night in their previous encounter.
"I really was focused on getting him off the blocks where he's comfortable," English said. "I sniffed out some of their plays early and didn't let him get going early. With young, prolific scorers, if they make some baskets early, their jump shots get going, they get a little bit more moxie."
Dixon scored all but two of his points in the first half, connecting on all six of his shots. Pressey continued his strong outside shooting, making both of his 3-point shots in the first half, one game after hitting four 3s in a win over Baylor. And Ratliffe, who leads the nation with a shooting percentage of 73.7 entering Wednesday's game, had nine of his 12 rebounds in the first half while shooting 6 of 9 from the field for the game.
The Tigers, who start four guards along with the 6-foot-8 Ratliffe, had a 37-29 rebound advantage, their first after being outrebounded by an average of more than nine boards the previous five games. But for a change, the defensive matchup was favorable against a team that starts three guards and also has no starter taller than 6-8. That big man, redshirt freshman Michael Cobbins, had 12 points and seven rebounds for the Cowboys.
Missouri's lead was so large that coach Frank Haith was able to put little-used reserves Jarrett Sutton and Andrew Jones, a tight end recruited from the football team early in the hoops season to shore up a thin front line, into the game with nearly 5 minutes remaining.
Ratliffe's rebounds included a second-half offensive grab that he immediately flipped into the basket while falling down and getting fouled. That play gave Missouri its largest lead of the game.
Denmon had 13 points in second half --10 in the first 10 minutes -- while going 3 of 7 from 3-point range.
The victory extended the school record of 101 for Missouri's four-man senior class, a group that consists of English, Denmon, Ratliffe and Matt Pressey, Phil's older brother.
But like his stone-faced public persona when asked about revenge as a possible motivation, English said the record is the byproduct of a more significant plan -- one the Tigers hope will culminate in the school's first Final Four and a national championship.
"Those are product goals. We're stuck in the process," he said, repeating what has become a near-mantra for Haith and his team. "You're going to get some accolades along the way if you really consume yourself with getting better every day. That's a testament to us just getting lost in preparation every week, especially this season."
------ Follow Alan Scher Zagier on Twitter (at) azagier