William & Mary-Missouri Preview
Undefeated Missouri finds itself on the verge of matching its best start in 20 years thanks in part to a mostly soft non-conference schedule.
Sunday's matchup against visiting William & Mary also seems unlikely to provide the No. 10 Tigers with much of a challenge.
Missouri, which hasn't opened 11-0 since the 1991-92 season, has to like its chances of matching that start with the Tribe (2-8) coming to the Mizzou Arena. The Tigers have recorded 64 consecutive home victories over non-conference teams by an average of 25.3 points.
Missouri continued its home domination over such foes Thursday, posting its highest-scoring output in nearly a year with a 104-67 rout of Kennesaw State.
"Honestly, we didn't do anything yet," said senior Ricardo Ratliffe, who had 18 points on 8-of-10 shooting. "We just focus on the next game. It doesn't matter if it's Kansas or Christopher Newport, a D-III out of Virginia, we just go out there and play our style, and just come out with a win."
Aside from an 87-58 rout of Notre Dame on Nov. 21 and an impressive 92-53 victory over then-No. 20 California the following night in Kansas City, Mo., the Tigers have beaten up on much less formidable opponents, and seem all but certain to do the same to William & Mary.
The Tribe, whose lone win over a Division I program came 65-64 at Liberty on Nov. 20, defeated Division III Wesley College 70-47 on Thursday following a nearly two-week layoff due to finals.
"It's the only non (Division I) game we play, it's a great time to put it in," coach Tony Shaver said. "It's not as challenging a game as going to Missouri, so its a good place to play that game."
William & Mary could have a hard time keeping up with the Tigers, who rank in the top five in the country in both field-goal percentage (51.9) and points per game (87.3). The Tribe haven't put up more than 87 points against a Division I opponent since falling 102-99 to Navy in triple overtime Nov. 22, 2008.
William & Mary has dropped 32 consecutive matchups versus Top-25 teams since knocking off then-No. 2 North Carolina 78-75 on Dec. 7, 1977. The Tribe, however, did take then-No. 10 Syracuse down to the wire in a 63-60 road loss Nov. 21, 2010.
While slowing down Marcus Denmon, averaging a Big 12-best 20.9 points, will be a priority for William & Mary, fellow guard Matt Pressey is starting to make his presence felt. Five days after scoring 12 points in an 84-59 win over Navy, Pressey - whose brother Phil leads the team with 6.1 assists per game - scored a season-high 15 Thursday, giving him double figures in back-to-back contests for the first time this season.
"I thought Matt was outstanding," coach Frank Haith said. "Great teams, you've got to have a guy on your team like Matt Pressey, a selfless guy that buys into his role completely. When he made some hustle plays, it energized our team."
Haith is first Missouri coach to win his first 10 games since Craig Ruby in 1920-21. The Tigers opened with 17 victories that season.