On Wednesday night, the #7/#8 Missouri Tigers (26-4, 13-4) defeated the Iowa State Cyclones (21-9, 11-6) by the final score of 78-72, to clinch second place in the Big 12 Conference.
Iowa State Head Coach Fred Hoiberg had his outstanding team ready to play, as the Cyclones held a lead over the Tigers for much of the game.
As he had done in Ames, when the Tigers played there earlier this season, 6’5” junior guard Chris Babb hounded Missouri’s Marcus Denmon from the opening whistle.
Missouri utilized four different players in defending 6’8’ 270-pound sophomore forward Royce White, who finished the night with 20 points, 6 rebounds, and 9 assists.
The Tigers also did a real good job of defending 6’3” senior guard Scott Christopherson and 6’3” senior guard Chris Allen, each of whom had been on fire coming into Mizzou Arena. Christopherson heated up very late, and finished with 15 points. Allen scored 3 points.
Iowa State’s 6’6” sophomore forward Melvin Ejim had a big game, with 10 points and 13 rebounds. Ejim was a big reason why the Cyclones held a 39-28 advantage on the boards, and his work on the offensive glass was a big reason that Iowa State was leading on the scoreboard for much of the game.
In the second half, the Tigers got their transition game going, and turned it up defensively on the Cyclones, who turned the ball over 15 times on the night. Missouri finished the game with a 24-6 advantage in fast-break points.
Missouri finally pulled ahead to stay with 3:35 remaining in the game when Mike Dixon raced up court for a lay-up to give the Tigers a 66-64 lead. Forty-one seconds later, Marcus Denmon came off of a screen and sank a 3-PT shot from near the top of the key to extend Missouri’s lead to 69-64. That seemed to signal that the Tigers had prevailed on Senior Night, and Iowa State never got closer than 4 points the rest of the way, even though Christopherson scored 8 points down the stretch, including a pair of 3-PT baskets.
“Marcus Denmon is one of the best players in the country! That was a huge possession,” said Missouri Head Coach Frank Haith, following the game.
Dixon led five Missouri players in double figures, with 21 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists. Ricardo Ratliffe scored 16 points and had 3 blocked shots.
Kim English finished the night with 13 points and 8 rebounds. Phil Pressey had11 points and 4 assists.
Marcus Denmon scored 14 points and grabbed 7 rebounds. Denmon finished the night with 1697 career points, which is tied with Melvin Booker for sixth on Missouri’s career scoring list. Denmon needs 63 points to move past Arthur Johnson into fifth place, and 140 points to move past Steve Stipanovich into fourth place on Missouri’s career scoring list.
After the Tigers trailed by 7 points a couple of times in the second half, Steve Moore sparked a Missouri run that turned things around for his team. Moore drew a charging foul on Royce White, then blocked a shot in front of the basket. Then, Moore dove onto the floor for a rebound, and started a fast break from his back with an outlet pass to Dixon, who quickly threw the ball ahead to a streaking Kim English for the lay-up that put the Tigers ahead 53-52 at 12:17 of the second half.
“Steve Moore has been phenomenal!” exclaimed Coach Haith. “We don’t win this game without Steve Moore.
After the game, the Missouri seniors remained on the court and addressed the fans.