By The Associated Press
COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Missouri has so many options on offense that it isn’t surprising when different players step up to help the Tigers keep winning.
Kim English scored 21 points and Michael Dixon added 15 on a day where Ricardo Ratliffe was held to just four points, leading lead No. 3 Missouri to a 71-62 win over Texas A&M on Saturday.
“Our offense is equal opportunity,” English said. “That’s the way coach (Frank) Haith drew it up. The go-to guy is the open man and fortunately they just made shots.”
It was Missouri’s 12th Big 12 win, which ties a school record for most in a season.
Texas A&M cut the lead to five points on a 3-pointer by Elston Turner with 1:22 remaining. A turnover by Phil Pressey on the next play gave A&M the ball back.
David Loubeau had a chance to get A&M within three points, but he was called for an offensive foul when he knocked Steve Moore to the ground going up for the shot.
“Steve is really good at moving his feet and getting in position to make those plays,” Haith said.
Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy seemed to think that it should have been a block on Moore instead of an offensive foul.
“I didn’t know David could knock down a 6-9, 300-pound guy to be honest with you,” Kennedy said. “We’ve got to get those kind of breaks against a very good Missouri team.”
Denmon’s 3 on the other end pushed the lead to 68-60 with 35 seconds left and his two free throws seconds later sealed the win for Missouri (25-2, 12-2).
“We showed great poise there in the second half and made some big stops when A&M made their run,” Haith said.
Khris Middleton, in his third game back after missing five straight with a knee injury, had 15 points to lead A&M (13-13, 4-10).
Missouri’s victory breaks a five-game losing streak for the Tigers in College Station, a place where they hadn’t won since 2001. The Tigers had lost eight straight overall to A&M before sweeping the series this season.
Haith said the team isn’t worried about the milestones it has reached this season, but that he is proud of what the Tigers have done so far.
“The focus on this team is to stay on task and stay focused on the next play and the next game,” he said. “But these kids should be commended for their accomplishments.”
Michael Dixon added 15 points for Missouri and Denmon had 14. The Aggies slowed Ratliffe, who entered the game averaging 14 points.
The Aggies, who have lost five of their last six games, were playing without injured point guard Dash Harris for the seventh straight game.
“They’ve got to get all their parts back,” Haith said of the Aggies. “Right now they don’t have Dash back and I think that hurts this team a great deal.”
The Tigers led by 13 points with 7 1/2 minutes left before a 12-7 run by A&M cut it to 63-55 with less than 4 minutes remaining. Missouri hit two free throws before A&M started its last run.
Texas A&M used a 6-0 spurt early in the second half to whittle Missouri’s lead to 34-32 with about 16 minutes remaining. Missouri’s offense went cold in that span and the Tigers went almost 3 minutes without scoring.
A 3-pointer by Denmon got them going again and extended the lead to 37-32. That was the start of a 12-4 run which made it 46-36 with 12 1/2 minutes remaining. Denmon had a second 3 later in the run.
Kennedy liked that his team kept this one close throughout.
“Our guys have done a really good job of staying in games and not breaking,” he said. “I like our toughness.”
Missouri’s Matt Pressey tweaked his left ankle with about 12 1/2 minutes remaining. He went to the bench and then hobbled to the locker room after talking with a trainer. He returned to the bench with about 9 1/2 minutes left, but didn’t re-enter the game.
Haith said he was OK, but that he had struggled with that ankle throughout the year.