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Safford tears ACL in win against Colorado

The Tigers have won five of their last six games and three in a row.

Junior forward Justin Safford clenches his knee in pain after landing incorrectly from a jump Wednesday at the Mizzou Arena. Safford suffered the first Tiger injury of the season, a torn ACL, during the game against Colorado.

Grant Hindsley/Senior Staff Photographer
Spencer Pearson/Graphic Designer

Feb. 24, 2010

Updated Nov. 13, 2010 at 6:31 p.m.

On a night when so many things went right for the Tigers, visiting Colorado was left feeling anything but a mile high.

Sophomore guard Marcus Denmon scored a game-high-tying 21 points one game after putting up a career-high 24, and senior guard J.T. Tiller flirted with a triple-double as the Tigers (21-7, 9-4 Big 12) drubbed Colorado 92-63 in front of a crowd of 14,303 at Mizzou Arena.

Missouri has won five of its last six games and three games in a row for the first time in Big 12 play this season.

"We got better tonight against a Colorado team that had nothing to lose and everything to gain," coach Mike Anderson said.

Tiller racked up a career-high nine assists with virtuoso passing and an added 10 points and seven rebounds. In one sequence in the second half, Tiller got a pass off to Denmon for a fastbreak layup and on the next possession found wide open sophomore guard Miguel Paul for a 3-pointer.

That basket made the score 70-45, and the floodgates were opening.

"Since the Colorado game at Colorado, you can see his imprint on our basketball team," Anderson said of Tiller. "Very much like last year. He doesn't have to score to be that effective."

After handling the Buffaloes by nearly 20 points on their home court Feb. 6, the Tigers maintained focus on this game, especially with a trip to No. 6 Kansas State looming Saturday.

"We try to come out, and we know that this time of the season is really important, so we just want to come out and try to get better," Denmon said.

Missouri built a sizable advantage early on as the Colorado offense sputtered. As the Buffaloes struggled to gain composure on the offensive end, Missouri took advantage by opening a 30-15 lead by the 7:44 mark.

One of the main performers in that run was junior forward Justin Safford, who put up eight quick points. It was after the last two that Safford suffered a knee injury and had to be helped off the court and into the locker room.

Safford watched the rest of the game from the bench.

"He said he came down on it wrong," Anderson said.

Anderson announced in an athletics department release Thursday that Safford had suffered a torn left ACL, and his injury will be reassessed next week.

Marching on without one of their starting forwards, the Tigers owned a 48-32 lead at the half. No one scored in double figures in that time for Missouri, but the Tigers had 10 players get points on the board compared to six for the Buffaloes.

"I thought we were a tremendously efficient team tonight," Anderson said. "No matter who came in the game, they really brought the energy and brought the defensive mindset that took us into the offensive end."

The second half looked to be a journey toward the century mark in points, and seldom-used freshmen forwards John Underwood and Tyler Stone and junior guard Jarrett Sutton saw action.

"We're getting better every time we step on the court, whether that be in practice or in the game," Tiller said. "I think we're right where we need to be."

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