Denmon scores 22, No. 10 Missouri defeats Navy

With 13 freshmen and sophomores and only one senior who see

significant playing time, first-year Navy coach Ed DeChellis says

his team is still a work in progress.

DeChellis hopes his team can use an 84-59 loss to No. 10

Missouri on Saturday as a learning experience.

”I think the best thing for us is competing in this

environment, in this atmosphere, so that when we get to an

atmosphere down the road that is loud and challenging, we can talk

about this and revert back,” DeChellis said.

J.J. Avila scored 26 points for Navy (3-8). The Midshipmen took

a 5-0 lead at the outset but trailed 45-26 by halftime.

”As a team, I thought we played hard,” Avila said. ”Missouri

is a really good team. I think it was a good learning experience

for us, playing someone a lot better. I can’t say we almost had it,

but we played well.”

After dispatching its first eight opponents with hot shooting

and quickness, Missouri needed a different strategy to counter Navy

on Saturday.

Earlier in the week, coach Frank Haith said his team would need

to exhibit patience against the Midshipmen, who play at a slower

tempo and are more physical in the paint.

Haith’s words came to fruition as the Tigers overcame an

uncharacteristic slow start and used their defense to pull

away.

Having scored 31 and 28 points in his previous two games, Marcus

Denmon scored 22 points and Missouri (9-0) matched its best start

since the 2006-07 season with its 64th straight home victory

against nonconference opponents.

Down early, Missouri went on a 16-3 run to take the lead. The

Tigers finished the first half with a 27-11 burst.

”I feel they came out to a good start, but once the ball’s

thrown up and we started to get a couple of stops, I felt that us

being patient helped us start to take off,” Denmon said.

Ricardo Ratliffe, entering the day leading the Big 12 in field

goal percentage (77.3), made 6 of 9 shots and added 14 points. He

was disappointed with how Missouri started out, and said Haith

challenged the team to match Navy’s intensity during the first

timeout.

This was the first matchup between the teams since the first

round of the 1994 NCAA Tournament, when the top-seeded Tigers

defeated the No. 16 Midshipmen 76-53. Missouri has won all three

all-time meetings.

Navy entered the game making 51 percent of its shots from inside

the arc, compared to 29 percent on 3-point attempts. But the

Midshipmen seemed flustered by Missouri’s defensive pressure,

settling for 25 shot attempts from 3-point range out of 55 overall

field goal attempts, including 14 out of 27 in the first half.

Size may have contributed to Navy’s trouble as Missouri was

actually the taller team on the court despite starting four guards.

The Tigers used that advantage en route to grabbing a 40-29

advantage in rebounds and scoring 36 points in the paint.

”It’s hard when you’re on the road, I don’t care who you are,”

DeChellis said. ”It’s just really hard to win on the road. It’s

really challenging to win when you’re a young team and everything

is new to them.”

Five players scored in double figures for Missouri, which shot

49.1 percent from the field and entered the day leading the Big 12

in field goal percentage (51.1).

”We have guys that offensively are capable of scoring in double

figures any night,” Denmon said. ”It depends on the team we’re

playing and who’s making shots that night. But it just shows that

we have guys who are capable.”

Navy was able to grab more inside looks in the second half,

including a 24-7 run near the end. The Midshipmen pulled within 17

points with 3:25 remaining but could get no closer.

”It’s easier to slow teams down than it is to speed teams up,”

Missouri guard Kim English said. ”They did a good job playing the

game they wanted. We adjusted, and got out of here with a

win.”

Having already played 11 games, the Midshipmen now get a break,

playing only two games in the next three weeks. Their next game is

Dec. 22 at Presbyterian.

Missouri next faces Kennesaw State and William & Mary at

home before traveling to St. Louis to face No. 24 Illinois on Dec.

22 in the teams’ annual Braggin’ Rights game.