Missouri basketball topped their second straight foe from the Land of Lincoln on Monday night, blowing out Northern Illinois at home, 97-61.
The win puts them at a season-high streak of seven in a row, but it more importantly marks win No. 100 for Coach Mike Anderson. He has led the program back onto the national stage since joining Missouri in March of 2006 and is now 100-47 all-time with the Tigers.
"That’s a tribute to our coaching staff and our players,” Anderson said. “That’s a tribute to those guys and their hard work, and getting the right guys. I feel proud of those guys, and in this business here, you got to be thankful."
The 2010-11 season has yielded his best start to a season in five years at Missouri, as the Tigers improve to 12-1 with the holiday victory. They are undefeated against Illinois teams this year, topping Western Illinois in the season opener and Illinois in the Braggin’ Rights game last week.
Missouri flew out to a huge 57-17 lead by halftime, headed by another big night from junior guard Marcus Denmon. The leading scorer had game-high 24 points with five three-pointers. Denmon is now averaging over 19 points in his last eight contests.
The big lead kept the visitors distant despite the Huskies outscoring the Tigers 44-40 in the second half.
The Tigers forced 19 Husky turnovers in the game. The tally kept pace with Missouri’s average of forcing one turnover for nearly every three opposing possessions this season.
Sophomore guard Michael Dixon accounted for more of those opponent turnovers than any other Tiger, posting a season-high four steals tonight.
Joining him on the defensive stat sheets was junior forward Ricardo Ratliffe who recorded three blocks.
Ratliffe and his fellow starters carried the Tigers in the win, a rarity for a team that has dominated in bench points this year. Missouri’s bench put up just 22 points against Northern Illinois, well under their average of 26.4 per game.
The five starters accounted for the other 75 points in the contest, with four of them posting solid scoring nights. Aside from Denmon’s performance, Missouri had junior guard Matt Pressey with 18 points, junior forward Laurence Bowers with 16 points and Ratliffe with 14 points.
Pressey’s 18 points was a career high for the transfer student. Bowers praised the high potential of Pressey and the other new players.
"He showed what he was capable today,” Bowers said. “It’s really not only Matt, but also Ricardo and Ricky - all of those guys are adjusting to their roles. On any given night, Matt could explode for 18 or Ricky could go for double figures. Those guys are a big boost to the team."
Pressey had a little chat with Anderson before the game that may have made the difference.
"I talked to Coach before the game and he just emphasized to me to be a little more aggressive and assertive,” Pressey said. “Coming into this game, I wanted to be assertive on the defensive and offensive end, so that was my mindset coming into the game."
According to Mizzou Arena history, the Huskies were doomed before tipoff in this one. The Tigers were 54-0 at home against non-league opponents coming into Monday’s game, and extended the school-record streak with the win.
Next up for the Tigers is their second of three straight home games, as they will host Old Dominion at 7 p.m. Thursday.