By The Associated Press
LUBBOCK, Texas — Kim English and his Missouri teammates like to work the ball inside and establish a post presence. That plan took a backseat Saturday for the No. 7 Tigers, who hit a season-best 16 3-pointers in an 81-59 win over Texas Tech.
“You never go into the game plan to shoot a lot of 3s,” said English, who scored 20 points to lead the Tigers. “But we are guards and we take what the defense gives us and we were just fortunate to knock down some shots off some really nice passes. Those passes gave us some really nice looks.”
Marcus Denmon added 17 points, all in the second half when he went 5 for 8 from long range, and Ricardo Ratliffe finished with 13 points and a career-high 15 rebounds for Missouri.
The Tigers (27-4, 14-3) slowly pulled away in the second half with 12 of their 3s coming after halftime. The win gave Missouri a school record for victories in the regular season.
Texas Tech (8-22, 1-17) stayed with the Tigers in the first half but couldn’t keep up with Missouri’s long-range barrage, walking away with its worst ever finish in Big 12 play.
Jaye Crockett scored 17 points and Ty Nurse added 12 for the Red Raiders.
The Tigers turned to the 3-pointer early in the second half and got nine of their first 11 field goals in the opening 12 minutes from beyond the arc to go up 64-48. They had six in a row at one point, with Denmon hitting four of them. They hit 16 of 26 from 3-point range (61.5 percent).
Texas Tech coach Billy Gillispie said the 3-pointers were tough to overcome.
“Missouri made 12 out of 18 in the second half, and I’ve never seen anything like that,” he said. “I thought we were in great position at half time, we should have really been leading the game, we gave up two free-throw violations and two out-of-bounds plays where they laid it up or we would have been leading at half.”
Ratliffe dominated the glass, grabbing his 12th rebound with 10 minutes remaining in the game. Missouri out rebounded the Red Raiders 30-23 and got 14 second-chance points off 11 offensive rebounds. Ratliffe had eight of those 11.
“He was outstanding,” said Tigers coach Frank Haith. “And he didn’t get a lot of entry passes because of their really good post defense, but obviously he got a chance to get loose there, he was 5 for 8, but where he really stood out there tonight was rebounding the basketball, which is what we need.”
After a somewhat lethargic opening half, the Tigers moved the ball around and shared it after the break, finishing with 18 assists – led by Phil Pressey’s eight. Missouri turned the ball over just once in the second half.
Haith was pleased at the timing of his team’s solid play.
“You want to be playing your very best basketball this time of year to make a run in the conference tournament and to make a run in the national tournament,” he said. “So it was important to keep playing the way we’ve been playing and continue to grow as a team to get better.”
Robert Lewandowski, the lone senior playing his final home game, pulled Texas Tech to 32-30 to open the second half, but back-to-back 3s by Matt Pressey put the Tigers up 38-30. Ratliffe added a bucket and Denmon, Missouri’s leading scorer, got his first points of the game on a 3-pointer to put the Tigers up 43-33 with 16:32 remaining.
Missouri struggled from the field early, hitting on just 10 of 25 from the field in the first half. The Tigers dominated the boards, however, but scored only three field goals – two of them putbacks – in the final 11 minutes of the first half.
The Red Raiders used a 10-4 run, including five points from Luke Adams, who hit a 3 to pull them to 21-20 with 5:13 remaining.
Missouri then stretched the lead to 32-26 on two free throws each from English and Michael Dixon. Texas Tech’s Clark Lammert scored off a rebound to close the half with the Tigers up 32-28.
Missouri next plays in the Big 12 tournament in Kansas City, on Thursday at 6 p.m. Missouri is the No. 2 seed in the tournament, Kansas is No. 1.
The public is invited to watch the NCAA tournament Selection Sunday broadcast along with the men’s basketball team Sunday, March 11 at Mizzou Arena. The event is free, with free popcorn and soda, too. Doors open at 4 p.m., the broadcast begins at 5 p.m.
Fans are encouraged to park in Lot P south of the Arena and enter through the south doors. The student doors on the north side will also be open.
There will be a commemorative poster for the first 1,000 fans.