Junior guard Kim English went from leading scorer in his sophomore year to the second-worst shooter on the team as a junior. But, despite shooting 37-percent so far this year, coach Mike Anderson has started English in all but one game.
The benefit of the doubt ran out for English on Saturday night. The host of Colorado was the first time the struggling junior found himself on the bench at the start of a conference game.
Apparently he wasn’t pleased. English went off for a team-high 21 points as the No. 15 Tigers topped the visiting Buffaloes at Mizzou Arena on Saturday.
The Tigers grabbed the home win after dropping two straight games on the road. English fed off the crowd in the Tigers’ sold-out Mizzou Arena in the big performance.
"It's kind of easy to have energy at home,” English said. “One big play will get the crowd roaring. We have to take that same mentality on the road; we can do it, we just have to do it consistently."
English added six rebounds in the comeback performance, second only to junior forward Ricardo Ratliffe who put up 14 points and nine boards.
A total of five Tigers reached double figures. The backcourt duo sophomore guard Michael Dixon and freshman guard Phil Pressey each went for 13 points while junior guard Marcus Denmon added his usual 17 points.
Anderson loved the work put in by his underclassmen point guards.
"They were really active,” Anderson said. “They moved the ball and played up-tempo basketball. They were making a lot of shots coming off the dribble, and I like to see is those guys surveying the court and seeing what's available.”
The win over Colorado will wash out the bitter taste in Missouri mouths after the Tigers opened up Big 12 play with a loss in Boulder. Missouri improves to 18-5 overall and evens out their conference record at 4-4. Colorado falls to 15-9 on the year with a 4-5 conference tally.
Missouri started fast at home, going on a 10-0 run two minutes in. The Tigers then outdid themselves with a 14-2 run later in the first half. The first twenty minutes was a story of runs for the Tiger offense, as they recorded a 21-8 scoring span in the last six minutes of the half to lead 47-31 at halftime.
Colorado kept pace in the second half, with each team scoring 42 points in the final twenty. But the halftime deficit was too much to overcome. The Buffaloes shot 41-percent from the field to the Tigers 45-percent, but the real difference was the turnover margin.
Missouri won the turnover battle 23 to 13, with 15 of those Colorado turnovers coming on Tiger steals. Phil Pressey had a game-high five strips for the home team.
Colorado head coach Tad Boyle knows his team’s ball control was what did them in.
"Well we didn't handle their pressure as well,” Boyle said. “We knew we were going to have to try to take care of the ball and we didn't do a very good job of that. We just didn't handle it as well. That was the name of the game, without a doubt."
Next up for the Tigers is a trip to Allen Fieldhouse to take on the 22-1 Jayhawks. No. 2 Kansas has won four straight since being upset by Texas at home two weeks ago. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. Monday.