Mizzou men handle Midshipmen, move to 9-0

Andrew Jones proving helpful at the forward position

By Darren Hellwege
Photos by Kaveh Kaghazi and Nick Gerhardt

Marcus Denmon scores with a reverse layup in the second half. Denmon had a team-high 22 points. (Nick Gerhardt)

In some ways, the Midshipmen of the US Naval Academy challenged the Missouri Tigers men’s basketball team like no one else had this year. They were able to slow down the tempo to a style that fit them better, and defensively played tougher and more physically in the post, providing a real challenge to Ricardo Ratliffe and Steve Moore that they won’t see often, at least until Big 12 season comes around.

But the Tigers handled it all, with all five starters in double figures in the 84-59 win over Navy Saturday at Mizzou Arena. Marcus Denmon, as is so often the case, let the way offensively with 22 points. The Tigers remain unbeaten at 9-0.

“This is the first team to really jam us like that on ball screens in the post,” Tiger coach Frank Haith said after the game. “I knew they’d play tempo and for us to execute that well is great. They didn’t turn the ball over much and we still won by 25.”

Ratliffe was able to take on the challenge and grab a team-high eight rebounds to go with his 14 points. He said the Midshipmen were more physical.
“They tried to box me out further, I just had to try to keep cool to rebound against pretty physical guys,” Ratliffe said.

One reason Ratliffe and fellow big man Steve Moore, who added seven points in 16 minutes, may be more prepared for the physical play of Navy is the newest member of the team: Andrew Jones. Jones, a reserve tight end on the football team, has been practicing with the basketball team. He will join the team after the football team plays in the Independence Bowl. At 6’5” and 255 pounds, he has the ability to push around the 240 pound Ratliffe and even give some fight to Moore, who weighs in at just over 260. Ratliffe said he’s not played very many players stronger than himself, but Jones is.

“He still has some basketball skills, even though he’s a football player. I can tell he was really good in high school,” Ratliffe said. “We’ll see some more aggressive big men when we get to Big 12 season, and (Jones) is aggressive,” Haith said. “He has a motor which I love.”

Another part of the scoring mix was point guard Phil Pressey, who added 11 points with five assists and made several highlight-reel moves.

“The point guard has to make shots so they’ll guard him closer, then drive. Phil can get into the paint and create, not just for himself but also for others,” Haith said.

J.J. Avila had 26 for Navy, the only Midshipman in double figures. The Midshipman were welcomed to Mizzou Arena with “Anchors Aweigh” playing over the speakers and applause from many in the crowd. But the friendly treatment ended with the start of the game, and one observer in the pressroom said of the team, which shot only 13-42 aside from Avila, “let’s hope they shoot torpedoes better than jump shots.”

The unbeaten Tigers next play Thursday against Kennesaw State of Georgia. The Owls are 2-5 and have lost three in a row. Their record includes games with big name schools like Wisconsin and Auburn. They also lost to Belmont, a team that’s been to four NCAA tournaments in recent years and was 30-4 last year. But on a day that saw winless Austin Peay upset Tennessee in Knoxville, Haith pointed out that “anyone can lose. There are a lot of good mid-majors in this nation, and you can lose any time you go on the court if you aren’t ready.”

Missouri entered the game ranked No. 10. In addition to Tennessee, No. 1 Kentucky was beating by Indiana and No. 2 Ohio State was beat by No. 13 Kansas.


3 responses to “Mizzou men handle Midshipmen, move to 9-0

  1. Pingback: Season in Review | Greenhouses Give You Space To Grow

  2. Pingback: KC SportsNation » Mizzou rolls Navy 84-59, now 9-0 » KC SportsNation

  3. Pingback: KC SportsNation » KC SportsNation

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