While in the locker room after scoring all but 10 of his team’s points in a 28-6 run over Texas A&M to close the first half, junior guard Michael Dixon’s highlights played on the screen above the court. The PA announcer lauded the fans, asking Mizzou Arena, “Is there a greater sixth man?”
As rowdy and ear-splitting as the sellout crowd of 15,061 responded, the question could have been directed to the player up on the screen.
Dixon was instrumental to the fifth-ranked Missouri men’s basketball team’s 70-51 win over its future Southeastern Conference foe Monday at Mizzou Arena. It only took a couple minutes before coach Frank Haith called his name to enter the game for senior guard Matt Pressey, whom Haith said was coping with a nagging ankle injury. Dixon led the Tigers (17-1, 4-1 Big 12 Conference) with 18 points in 26 minutes.
“We just (have) a good team and I do what I can to help this team,” Dixon said. “I don’t worry about anything like that. I just want to win. That’s great and all. But I just contribute how I can to get W's.”
Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy acknowledged Dixon's strong presence.
“When you have a starter like Dixon — I consider him a starter — come in and do what he can do offensively, it's a great option to have,” Kennedy said.
The Aggies (10-7, 1-4 Big 12 Conference), for the size advantage they boasted over their opponent, lacked the firepower to score against a scrappy, gritty Tiger defense that did not allow a field goal for nearly nine minutes during that scoring stretch.
“We felt that we needed to get stops,” senior guard Marcus Denmon said. “We built (the scoring run) off our defense. We got transition baskets. (Denmon) made shots and we started to get some rhythm.”
Denmon finished the game with 16 points and a team-high nine rebounds, just shy of a consecutive double-double after Saturday's game against Texas, when he also led his team in rebounding.
Kennedy said he was not surprised to see his bigger team being out-rebounded by 12.
“They’re athletic, they’re tough,” he said. “When you have five seniors that have won as many games as they’ve won, you've got to give them a lot of respect. We’re not the most athletic or quickest team in the country, and I think they wore us down.”
The Aggies struggled to keep up with the point guard duo of Dixon and sophomore guard Phil Pressey, who ended with 10 points and seven rebounds.
“As you all know, Mike is capable of starting on any other team in the nation,” said senior forward Ricardo Ratliffe, who finished with 17 points. “It’s like instant offense. He’s a scoring point guard, and Phil is a pass-first point guard. It just gives us the best of both worlds.”