The Missouri basketball team rolled to an 87-54 blowout of visiting Iowa State Saturday night, improving to 3-2 in conference play. Missouri outrebounded its opponent 61-38 in the game, but it was some unusual suspects who cleaned the glass for the Tigers in the victory.
Sophomore guard Michael Dixon and junior guard Matt Pressey led the Tigers with eight rebounds each, largely due to the poor three-point shooting by the Cyclones throughout the game. Iowa State was 4 for 22 from long range, leading to a large quantity of long rebounds for the Tiger guards.
“Rebounds were the key to the game for us,” Missouri coach Mike Anderson said. “When you have guards leading you in rebounds that tells you we got in the trenches tonight. Matt Pressey and Mike Dixon, those guys did a great job of getting there and getting some of those long rebounds.”
Dixon led the Tigers in scoring as well, putting up 15 points to go along with two assists in the game. Anderson said he was impressed with the performance from his young guard.
“I think Mike (Dixon) was the best he’s played all year,” Anderson said. “I thought he was zoned in defensively and offensively and sharing the basketball. I thought he was the barometer in the first half and ignited a lot of things for our basketball team.”
The Tigers jumped out to a 48-26 halftime lead, forcing 12 turnovers early on. The shot-heavy Cyclones were forced into bad attempts and contested layups, with the Tigers applying high pressure on the Iowa State perimeter players. Cyclone senior standout Diante Garrett was held in check throughout the game by the Tiger defense, and finished 3 of 16 from the field for six points. Junior guard Kim English said the team tried to focus on starting the game out strong.
“We knew that they’re a good team and if they came in and stuck around with us early, that confidence would only get bigger,” English said. “So we definitely tried to make a concerted effort to come out and get stops early and hopefully get easy turnovers and easy baskets.”
Missouri also saw a standout performance from junior transfer Ricardo Ratliffe, who was a presence on both ends of the court for the Tigers. The forward finished with 12 points, six rebounds and six blocks in the game, and was extremely active contesting Iowa State in the paint. Ratliffe said intimidation was a factor in the Cyclone’s struggle inside.
“I think I was the first one to send a message,” Ratliffe said. “When you get that many blocks people start to think when they come in the hole that they have to look over their shoulder.”
Anderson agreed, attributing Ratliffe's performance to his recently-gained experience.
“(Ratliffe) played very well tonight, and gave an exceptional effort going for rebounds on defense,” Anderson said. “Ricardo did a good job of disrupting their shots inside, and he also faced up for his shots on offense. Now that he has some Big 12 experience, he comes out for games with more focus.”
The Tigers now get a week of rest before squaring off against the surging Texas Longhorns, who upset No. 2 ranked Kansas Saturday night. Anderson praised the Longhorns, and said he knows the road game will be a challenge for the Tiger squad.
“Texas is probably playing as good as anybody in the country,” Anderson said. “They’re battle-tested. They’re playing with a swagger, and they’ve been playing great at home. This will be the ultimate challenge.”
Tipoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. Saturday in Austin, Texas.