The Tigers have not lost within the confines of Mizzou Arena in nearly a year. Go back a little farther and Missouri has won 51 of their last 53 home games since the end of the 2007-08 season.
With a streak like that, Tuesday night’s game was business as usual for the Big 12’s lone undefeated team at home. Missouri topped visiting Texas Tech 92-84 to improve to 16-0 at home this year.
The Tigers improve to 20-6 on the season and 6-5 in conference, putting them tied for fourth in the Big 12. Texas Tech falls to 11-15 overall and 3-8 in conference, which is good enough for 11th in the Big 12.
Missouri’s leading scorer and junior guard Marcus Denmon had a monster first half for the Tigers, scoring 18 points in the first twenty. He would finish with 20 points after a slow second half. Denmon is Missouri’s leading scorer at 16.2 points per game.
Coach Mike Anderson thought his team needed their best shooter to show up in this one.
“Marcus Denmon was in a rhythm tonight on offense, and I thought we needed that because we weren’t getting much production from our forwards,” Anderson said. “Marcus did a good job of moving and attacking the basket.”
Denmon was joined in double figures by junior guard Kim English with 16 points, sophomore guard Michael Dixon with 13 and junior guard Laurence Bowers with 10 points. English also led the Tigers with 7 rebounds and six trips to the free throw line.
Also lighting up the stat sheets was junior center Steve Moore who had a season-high three blocks. Freshman guard Phil Pressey continued his hot shooting from distance with three three-pointers.
As for the Red Raiders, it was their senior leaders who showed up in the road contest. Senior guards John Roberson and David Tairu led the way for Texas Tech. Roberson led all scorers with 21 points and Tairu added 17 in the loss.
Texas Tech kept it close early until Missouri started pulling away ten minutes in. The rest of the first half then became a game of runs.
The Red Raiders went on a 16-2 run to go up 38-32 with five minutes left in the first half. Then the Tigers answered with a 13-1 run to regain the lead at 45-39. A late surge by Texas Tech made it 45-44 Missouri at the break.
It was more of the same in the second half as the teams went back-and-forth until Missouri slowly pulled away. Texas Tech trailed by double digits for much of the half until they cut the lead to three with just over a minute left. But the Tigers turned the 87-84 lead into 92-84 by the final buzzer.
Dixon explained how the visitors were able to keep it close throughout the second half.
“Coach called it a little wake up call,” Dixon said. “They have a couple of real shifty, good guards who saw the ball go through the hole early and that can give you as much confidence as you need.”
Texas Tech coach Pat Knight was happy with how his boys battled.
“I was proud of the way my guys competed,” Knight said. “They didn’t give up at all. They never got down even when Missouri got the lead a few times on us, so I was really proud of the way they fought and battled through to the end.”
With two straight home wins under their belt, Missouri will now travel to Ames to take on Iowa State. The Tigers will be looking for their first Big 12 road win against a Cyclones team that has just one win in conference play. Tipoff is set for 12:30 p.m. Saturday.