Story By Ryan Williams
Coming into the Big 12 tournament, the Tigers had one thing on their mind: championship. In the post game media conference Friday, senior Kim English touched on how they thought of this trip as a “business trip.” The Tigers have done their best to ensure they stay focused on their goal and advanced to the Big 12 final for the first time since 2009, after a 81-67 rout of Texas.
“Every game is about business,” English said. “Every road trip is a business trip. We came to Kansas City to take care of business.”
The Tigers did just that. Missouri won its second game of the Big 12 tournament by double-digits due to their offensive prowess.
Missouri shot just under 50 percent in the first half, keyed by six first half 3-pointers from English and sophomore Phil Pressey. The two Missouri led a 9-1 Missouri run when the Tigers led 17-15 with 11:24 to play in the first half.
After scoring 27 points against Oklahoma State in the quarterfinals, English was a perfect 6-for-6 in the first half and Phil Pressey had arguably his best half scoring all season with 18 points at half, 12 coming from beyond the arc.
“I thought offensively we were outstanding,” Missouri coach Frank Haith said.
“Phil was terrific early, and Kimmie…Ricardo got going late. Marcus didn’t have one of those nights, and that just tells you how good this team is.”
Denmon finished with just two points and finished 0-for-10 from the field. Despite his shooting woes, Denmon finished the game with six rebounds, two assists and three steals.
“I think it speaks to how good our team is offensively,” Haith said. “Anyone of our starting five is capable of having a big night any night.”
Denmon could be seen in the locker room icing his ankle after the game, and Denmon wasn’t the only Tiger doing so. Missouri fans held their breath at the Sprint Center seeing Kim English on his back in pain due to taking a knee to the thigh.
“I’m going to ice (my thigh) tonight, but I’ll be ready to go tomorrow…it’s the Big 12 championship,” English said.
English and Pressey led all scorers with 23 points. Pressey averaged 18 points against the Longhorns this season (Pressey only averaged nine points vs. all other teams). Ricardo Ratliffe recorded his eighth double-double of the season with a 18 points and 14 rebounds.
Big 12 Sixth Man of the Year Michael Dixon was the fourth Tiger in double-digits, scoring 10 points (six from 3-pointers) and three assists.
“Mizzou is one of the best teams I’ve seen in a long time when it comes to sharing the ball,” Texas coach Rick Barnes said. “They do a terrific job.”
Barnes’ Longhorns seemed exhausted after a big win over Iowa State 71-65 Thursday. Texas’ star guard J’Covan Brown led the way for the Longhorns with 21 points and eight rebounds. Clint Chapman finished with nine points and eight rebounds while holding Ratliffe to just four points on four field goal attempts in the first half.
Despite losing to Missouri by 14, Texas outrebounded Missouri, 39-29, with a program-best 20 offensive rebounds.
“We’re still a team that is growing,” Barnes said. “I wouldn’t say we lack confidence, we just lack experience. With 20 offensive rebounds we should have shot better than 42 percent. We’ll get better.”
Missouri will face Baylor in the Big 12 final Friday at 5 p.m. from the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. It will be the third time the Tigers and Bears face each other this season. The last, and only, time Missouri won a Big 12 championship was in 2009, defeating the Baylor in the final.
Game notes: Phil Pressey had a career-high in points (23) and 3-pointers (five)…English improves to 20-for-23 shooting in the Big 12 tournament and set a new Missouri record for field goal percentage in a Big 12 championship game at 90 percent (9-10)…Ricardo Ratliffe had 14 rebounds, which tied the school record for a Big 12 championship game (Kelly Thames vs. Oklahoma, 3-8-97)…Missouri is 1-3 all-time in Big 12 championship title games (only win was 2009 vs. Baylor, 73-60).