The Missouri Tigers opened up their 2010-2011 season with a 114-60 drubbing of the Harris-Stowe Hornets in front of a large crowd at Mizzou Arena.
Coach Mike Anderson’s trademark “Fastest 40 Minutes in Basketball” was firing on all cylinders as the Tigers racked up 39 points off turnovers and got 44 points from their bench players.
Five different Tigers put up 10 or more points including Big 12 Preseason Newcomer of the Year Ricardo Ratliffe, who put up a double-double in his first game as a Tiger.
Junior Laurence Bowers, who went 13 for 14 from the free throw line as part of a 23-point performance, said Ratliffe’s presence on the court opened things up for Bowers and the rest of the team.
“A lot of the free throws I shot today was made possible by the double teams on Ricardo,” Bowers said. “I was getting free a lot and playing with a guy who demands so much attention, it’s not only going to free myself up, but it’s also going to free up the other 3 guys on the court as well. I think he did a great job today.”
Ratliffe was not the only newcomer to have a big night in his Tiger debut. Highly touted freshman Phil Pressey did not disappoint in his first collegiate game, putting up 12 points and grabbing 7 rebounds. For Pressey, it was good to just get out and play against a real opponent.
“Every day we’re out here fouling each other, pretty much injuring each other, and today was our first day to just come together as a team and go on out there and get the 'W,'” Pressey said.
On the injury front, junior guard Marcus Denmon went up for a slam-dunk, injuring his wrist in the process. The injury did not appear to be too serious but Anderson kept him out for precautionary reasons.
In terms of areas that need improvement, junior guard Kim English noted the Tiger defense needs to tighten up at the guard position to relieve some of the pressure on the big men.
“We started off really tough at the rim, we got a little weak later, but that also stems from the guards getting penetrated,” English said. “Our guards need to be better up top, and our big men can do a little better protecting the rim without fouling as much because an altered shot is just as good as a block because we have guys who are going to get the rebound. So, a missed shot is just as good as a breakaway.”
English’s critical assessment of the team’s performance on defense gives credence to Anderson’s belief that the junior forward has matured heading into this season and his ability to step up into a leadership role.
“When you look at Kimmy, he lets the game come to him,” Anderson said. “You can see just the experience factor, and they are in different roles now. They’re leaders now.”
Missouri has one more tune up before the regular season opener Friday against Arkansas-Fort Smith at Mizzou Arena.