Missouri senior guard Marcus Denmon appeared drowsy following his team’s 63-50 victory over Texas Tech on Saturday at Mizzou Arena. A victim of a cold, he spoke with a lethargic tone about his shooting struggles in the game, going 4-of-15 from the field, bringing his total to 21-of-68 in the past six contests.
“The shots I missed, all makeable shots,” Denmon said. “They’re all makeable shots. Coach (Frank Haith) has faith in me as well as my teammates. They tell me continue to take good shots. That’s what I did. Some nights in doesn’t go (your) way.”
Still, Denmon, a finalist for the coveted John R. Wooden Award given to the country’s top player at the end of the season, was able to lend 19 points to his team, largely in thanks to scoring all 10 of his free throw attempts.
“I’m not gonna make a bigger deal than what it is,” Haith said. "He knows he’s not shooting the ball well. I don’t need to tell him that. All I need to do is tell him to continue to take good shots. He’s our guy. I trust him. He’s putting in work every day. I’m not concerned about him missing a few shots here and there. He’s gonna be fine.”
Coming off a discouraging loss against Oklahoma State on Wednesday in Stillwater, Okla., the No. 2 Tigers (19-2, 6-2 Big 12 Conference) shot just 39.6 percent as a team against the Red Raiders (7-13, 0-8 Big 12), whose game plan evidently appeared to neutralize the reigning national player of the week, senior forward Ricardo Ratliffe.
Missouri’s players, forming the best-shooting team in the conference and the second-best shooting team in the country, elected to spread the floor with ready shooters.
Senior guard Kim English was the general of the attack early on, connecting on two three-pointers in the team’s opening three possessions. At halftime, he led all scorers with 19.
Having only made a single field goal in the first half, Denmon came out of the locker room resurgent. He made 11 of his team’s opening 13 points assisted by sophomore point guard Phil Pressey on three occasions. Pressey finished with 11 assists on the game, only twice going to Ratliffe, who has been his favorite target all season.
“Phil is definitely a true point guard,” said English, who finished the game with 22 points. “He has a good feel for the game and he could see where they were trying to take it away. That was obviously Ricardo. Phil did a nice job of finding guys for shots."
Texas Tech was able to cut Missouri’s lead to as little as seven throughout the second half. The Tigers were able to extend leads from the charity stripe, though, where they connected 19 times in the game compared to twice by their opponents.
“We will not play flawless basketball all year,” Haith said. “Coming off a loss you (knew) it was going to be a tough game to win. But we won, so that’s a great thing for us.”