Following Missouri’s 87-48 exhibition victory over Truman State on Nov. 2, Missouri coach Frank Haith was asked whether or not he thought senior Marcus Denmon should look to shoot more.
“If he's open I want him to shoot (the ball),” Haith replied.
Denmon did just that Thursday night, taking open shots when he had good looks and scoring 22 points to help the Tigers dominate throughout for an 83-52 victory over Niagara.
“When you’re moving the ball collectively as a team and you have good shooters taking good shots, then the percentages of making them usually go up,” Denmon said.
Denmon, a preseason First Team All-Big 12 Conference selection, had the stroke from the wing throughout the first-half, leading all scorers at the break with 17 points after converting on four of six three-point attempts.
“Marcus is a terrific player,” Haith said. “I've been around the ACC and some really good guards and he's right there with them. He's efficient, very efficient, in terms of shots he's so solid in what he does and how he scores and transitions too."
Missouri as a team had the hot hand from beyond the arc, making good on 9-14 attempts from downtown in the first half. As a team, Niagara made just nine shots from the field in the game’s opening frame.
The Tigers finished the game going 12-22 from three-point territory. Through three games, MU has connected on 48 percent of its three-point attempts.
The Tigers have begun to depend on the long ball offensively, but Haith was quick to point out after the game that the team can’t bank on that on a night-by-night basis.
“We got to hang our hats on defending,” Haith said. “There’s going to be games where we’re not going to make open shots, that’s just the law of averages it’s going to happen. Our guys’ focus is what it needs to be, just listen to (the players). We (have) got to make sure we defend.”
Haith pointed to his team winning the rebound battle by five and holding the Purple Eagles to under 35 percent shooting from the field as things he was more proud of.
Senior Kim English continued his impressive start to the season, scoring 14 points on 4-of-7 shooting.
Through three games, the Baltimore, Md., native is averaging 17 points per game and is shooting 51 percent from the field. Thus far, English is much improved from his pedestrian 10.0 points per game on 36 percent shooting last year.
The win improves the Tigers to 3-0 on the season, while Niagara falls to 1-1.
"I thought it was the best game we’ve played this year," Haith said.
Missouri will play its first games away from Mizzou Arena next week, taking on Notre Dame on Monday and either California or Georgia on Tuesday in the final stages of the Progressive CBE Classic at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.
“We’re really clicking as a unit,” English said. “And we showed tonight how well we can play when we play together for 40 minutes.”