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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Missouri cuts down Cornhuskers for first conference win

The Tigers came out strong after losing their conference opener to Colorado on Saturday.

The No. 15 Missouri Tigers won their first conference game Wednesday night over the visiting Cornhuskers of Nebraska. The Tigers improve to 15-2 on the season with the 77-69 victory.

The Big 12 win comes after the Tigers opened up conference play with a disappointing 89-76 loss at Colorado. The Tigers are now 1-1 in conference putting them at third in the Big 12 North.

Junior guard Marcus Denmon went off for a game-high 27 points, tying his career best. The junior ace also shot 5-of-7 from beyond the arc.

Denmon is the leading scorer for the Tigers by a large margin with 17.6 points per game this season.

Coach Mike Anderson loves the consistency from his star player, as Denmon topped 20 points for the seventh time this year.

"He is playing good basketball,” Anderson said. “That's what I look for; the consistency. He is bringing it every night. He is an emerging leader on the team."

Joining Denmon in the stat sheet stuffing was junior forward Ricardo Ratliffe. The big man went for 12 points and seven rebounds as well as a game-high four blocks. Junior forward Laurence Bowers added his own 12 points and seven boards.

Ratliffe knows that the outside threat of Denmon opens up the paint for the forwards to work the inside game.

"It's a huge impact,” Ratliffe said. “They can't focus on double-teaming the post because they have to have someone out guarding our shooters. Them lining it up just makes it easier for us to get a good shot inside."

The Tigers started off strong in the home game, opening the contest on an 8-0 run. Denmon started the game 4-of-4 from distance as he and the backcourt Tigers combined for 25 of the team’s 36 first half points.

On defense, Missouri held Nebraska to just 28 points on 34-percent shooting in the first half. The Huskers matched the Tigers scoring in the second half but couldn’t overcome the halftime deficit.

Coach Anderson saw a turnaround in his team as they rebounded from the road loss last weekend.

"It was great to see because of what took place our last game,” Anderson said. “We saw the things that were missing (from the Colorado Game). The energy, the defense, the scoring, the rebounds, blocked shots and taking of charges.”

Next up for Missouri is a trip to College Station, Texas for a battle with Texas A&M. Denmon knows that every conference road game in the Big 12 is challenge.

"Going on the road in conference play and trying to win is like stealing a game,” Denmon said. “In this conference, trying to get a win is so hard on the road. Texas A&M is a good team, but we've been working hard on the things we need to work on.”

The Tigers tip off at noon on Saturday against the 14-1 Aggies. The road game will be their first of three next week as they will return home for two straight in Mizzou Arena after the matchup against Texas A&M.

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