Prevailing in some close games, including two against top 10
opponents, has kept Missouri in contention for a Big 12 title
during its final season in the conference.
The fourth-ranked Tigers will try to use that experience in
Saturday’s rematch with No. 6 Baylor, which will have a final
chance for at least the near future to earn its first win at
Missouri in 64 years.
Missouri (22-2, 9-2), which won its first 14 games this season
by an average of 25.3 points, has claimed its past three victories
by only a combined seven points. Short turnarounds before its most
recent two road games haven’t helped as it had one day of rest
before a 67-66 win over Texas on Jan. 30 and a 71-68 victory over
Oklahoma on Monday.
The Tigers avoided overtime in the latter when the Sooners’
Steven Pledger missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer. That win came two
nights after they pulled off a stunning 74-71 home victory over
archrival Kansas by rallying from an eight-point deficit in the
final three minutes.
Missouri, which will play in the SEC next season, remains tied
atop the Big 12 with the No. 7 Jayhawks, who earned a decisive
68-54 win at Baylor on Wednesday.
“(Baylor is) probably the most talented team in our league. They
had a tough game against Kansas, and I expect them to come in here
angry,” Tigers coach Frank Haith said. “We feel good about coming
in here and competing, but we’re going to get Baylor’s best
The Bears (21-3, 8-3) are also likely hungry to avenge an 89-88
home defeat to Missouri on Jan. 21, but they’ll have to snap a
10-game losing streak in Columbia to do so. Baylor recorded its
most recent win there and one of two in 12 all-time visits on Dec.
The Bears have also dropped eight straight to top 10 foes since
an overtime victory at No. 6 Texas on Jan. 30, 2010.
“Kansas did a tremendous job bouncing back after their tough
game with Missouri,” coach Scott Drew said. “We need to do the
exact same thing this Saturday.”
A better performance from Perry Jones III could help. Baylor’s
leading scorer (14.3 ppg) and rebounder (7.7) had five points on
1-of-8 shooting and three boards during the loss at Kansas.
The 6-foot-11 Jones, the Big 12’s preseason player of the year,
was also limited to eight points and four rebounds in the loss to
Missouri. Freshman forward Quincy Miller, meanwhile, had a
career-high 29 points in that game and junior guard Pierre Jackson
contributed 20 points and a career-best 15 assists.
Jackson had a team-best 16 points during Wednesday’s loss.
The Bears will also have to contend with a red-hot Marcus
Denmon. Missouri’s leading scorer has a combined 54 points and has
made 19 of 32 shots (59.4 percent) over the last two games,
including 10 of 18 from 3-point range.
Denmon, second in the Big 12 with 18.0 points per game, shot
33.8 percent over the 12 games before that stretch and was 11 of 43
(25.6 percent) in his previous three. The senior guard missed six
of seven shots from outside the arc against Baylor but finished
with 17 points.
Ricardo Ratliffe, who leads the nation with a 75.5 field goal
percentage, had a career-high 27 points while making 11 of 14
Missouri’s win was its fourth in the last five meetings, and the
Tigers lead the series 14-10.