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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Analysis: Tigers grab first conference win on the road

The Tigers overcame a late run by the Cyclones, who are now 1-11 in conference play.

Junior guard Matt Pressey drives to the basket against Kansas State on Jan. 17 at Mizzou Arena. The Tigers won their first Big 12 away game of the season this weekend.

Sam Gause/Senior Staff Photographer
Ashley Lane/Graphic Designer

The Missouri men’s basketball conference schedule has been as predictable as an overcast day in Columbia. If the game was at home, they would win it. If it was on the road, they were going to lose.

The Tigers are the only team in the Big 12 that is undefeated at home. But before Saturday, they were one of the three teams that hadn’t gotten a road conference win.

The Tigers finally snapped the streak of away losses Saturday in Ames, Iowa. Missouri held off Iowa State late to capture the 76-70 victory.

Iowa State themselves, at a dismal 1-11 in conference, along with Oklahoma State, are the two remaining teams without a Big 12 road win.

Before Saturday, Missouri hadn’t won outside Mizzou Arena since their non-conference win over Oregon back in early December. Saturday was nearly the same old story as Iowa State refused to go away at home.

The Cyclones kept it close in the first half as the Tigers lost the turnover battle and gave up a handful of second chance points. A halftime lead of 35-33 for Missouri was widened in the second half, but the home team refused to go away.

Iowa State kept the lead under 10 for the entire second half and cut it to four in the final minutes, but the Tigers were able to close it out at the free throw line.

Junior guard Marcus Denmon had another big first half with 17 points, after scoring 18 first-half points at Texas Tech last week. The leading scorer finished with a game-high 25 points.

Junior guard Kim English scored his 1,000th point in the win, just a game after Denmon surpassed that mark in their win over Texas Tech.

Coach Mike Anderson is used to seeing inconsistency from his team on the road, so the complete game put in by the Tigers was a pleasant surprise.

"We've played in spurts when we've played well on the road,” Anderson said. “We just hadn't done it for 40 minutes."

Sophomore guard Michael Dixon was just happy to end the sulking that defined every trip home in Missouri’s previous five road trips.

"It just feels good to get a win, especially getting back on the plane,” Dixon said. “There's been so many sad plane rides. Just quiet, silence, nothing. So it'll be good to get back."

The best home team in the Big 12 will host Baylor Wednesday night before playing their final two road games of the regular season next week.

Junior forward Laurence Bowers is working on breaking the stereotype that the Tigers can only play in Columbia.

"We broke the huddle with 'Road Dogs,"' Bowers said. "We won, so we're calling ourselves 'Road Dogs' for now."

The Bears are 6-6 in conference and come off a loss to Texas Tech at home. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. Wednesday.

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