No. 5 Missouri 88, Oklahoma St. 70

They know they’ll never win a Big 12 regular-season

championship. A one-point overtime loss at Kansas last month

settled that.

So as the No. 5 Missouri Tigers head out the door to the

Southeastern Conference, they’re chasing the Big 12 tournament

title as a way of waving a not-so-fond farewell to Big 12 brethren

resentful of the way they helped turn the conference upside


Thursday night, Oklahoma State paid the price.

Kim English scored 21 of his 27 points in the first 20 minutes

and set in motion the Tigers’ 88-70 thrashing in the Big 12


”We want this as bad as we wanted the Big 12,” said English,

who’s been engaging Kansas coach Bill Self and Kansas fans in

verbal back-and-fourth jousting this week. ”That’s why our loss

(at Kansas) hurt so bad. It was the Big 12 championship game. We

just want to win a championship. It’s not a chip on our


English led a 26-5 first-half run, Marcus Denmon added 24 points

and Phil Pressey had 12 assists, one short of a school record for

the Tigers (28-4).

Missouri will face Texas – a 71-65 winner over No. 25 Iowa State

in the late game – on Friday night in the semifinals, and many fans

are hoping for a showdown with archrival and No. 3 Kansas in the

title game Saturday.

”We are in Kansas City, Missouri,” said Denmon, a KC native.

”This is home for me. Missouri fans come out well, too.”

The Tigers outrebounded the Cowboys (15-18) 40-20.

”We were slow motion,” Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford said.

”They were fast motion.”

The game-seizing run in the first half, Ford said, started with

Missouri’s defense.

”Their defense was just stifling. They played with such great

energy. We were tired. I could see it. They’re a veteran,

experienced, physically tough basketball team. They might not be

the tallest team, but they are a physical team. We’re just the

opposite. We’re young. And they were playing to their strengths.

Their defense led to offense.”

English had 21 of his points in the rapid-fire first half that

ended with Missouri on top 49-24. Denmon, a two-time All-Big 12

guard, had 17 points in the second half.

Keiton Page had 22 points for Oklahoma State, and Brian Williams

had 21.

”We fought adversity against one of the best teams in America

that was playing great,” Ford said. ”When they’re playing to

their strength, there are not many teams better in this


It was 6-all when English drilled a long 3-pointer and set the

rout in motion as the Tiger overwhelmed one of the four teams that

beat them in the regular season. English had 10 points in a 15-0

spree to stake the Tigers to a 21-6 lead.

With 3:08 left in the half, English had 21 points and had

personally outscored the Cowboys, who trailed 41-17 after English

grabbed Matt Pressey’s pass and dropped it through the net for his

ninth field goal. Phil Pressey at that point had eight assists and

five steals in just 6 minutes.

Denmon, a two-time All-Big 12 guard, scored 13 straight points

for the Tigers in the second half, getting a three-point play and

then knocking in 3-point shots on each of the next two possessions

to make it 70-41.

After Cezar Guerrero scored for the outclassed Cowboys, Denmon

soared high to flush down a teammate’s miss and then, after an

Oklahoma State miss, made it 74-43 with his ninth basket.

But then Page, the Cowboys’ career 3-point leader, hit two 3s

and ignited a 17-3 counter punch by the Cowboys. Another 3-pointer

from Page was followed by baskets from Marek Soucek and Guerrero,

slicing it to 77-60 and prompting Missouri to call a timeout with

6:11 to go.

Thousands of fans, even some dressed in Kansas blue and Missouri

gold, gave Page a standing ovation when he was removed from the

game with 48 seconds to go.

By the end of the lopsided first half, Tigers fans were just

leaning back and laughing. Andrew Jones, a tight end attending

school on a football scholarship, drew a roar when he sank a free

throw to make it 45-18. The 6-foot-5 senior had scored only four

points all year after answering coach Frank Haith’s call for a big

body to bang around and lend depth to a thin front line. Jones

added another free throw with 40 seconds left.

Michael Dixon had 13 points for Missouri, which shot 66.7

percent in the first half and 59 percent for the game.

”Our intensity level was very high,” Haith said. ”These guys

fought hard.”