Before he stepped on the court for Missouri, expectations were high for Ricardo Ratliffe. After a quiet debut, he began to fulfill some of those expectations in his last game.
Ratliffe and the 11th-ranked Tigers play the first of two games in Mexico on Tuesday night against Wyoming.
Before signing with the Tigers, Ratliffe earned National Junior College Athletic Association male athlete of the year honors while setting scoring records at Central Florida Community College, where his number was retired earlier this month. He became the 13th player to earn consecutive first team all-America honors at junior college's highest level.
The junior forward entered this season as the Big 12's preseason newcomer of the year, but had an underwhelming debut in Thursday's 66-61 victory over Western Illinois, finishing with six points and two rebounds.
Ratliffe and his teammates had a better performance Saturday against North Florida. He had 16 points and 10 rebounds off the bench as Missouri (2-0) romped 96-58.
"He looked like the player we think he's capable of being," coach Mike Anderson said. "Our guys did a good job of getting the ball to him, and he did a good job of finishing."
Defensively, the Tigers broke a school record by forcing 34 turnovers. They ended the game on a 24-0 run.
"It was refreshing to see out team come out with great energy and focus," Anderson said.
If Missouri plays in similar fashion in the Cancun Challenge, it would likely prove too much for Wyoming (2-2).
"We want to show the young guys how to take games on the road," Tigers junior guard Marcus Denmon said. "It will be their first time going away, so we want to show them the way and how to get comfortable playing outside of Mizzou Arena."
The Cowboys bounced back from consecutive losses Saturday with a 64-55 victory over Western Illinois. After his team fell behind early, junior forward Djibril Thiam scored nine of his 13 points during a 20-5 run that gave Wyoming the lead for good.
"I was really happy that we were able to bounce back from a couple tough losses earlier this week and get a good win," coach Heath Schroyer said.
Thiam (11.5 points per game) and sophomore guard Desmar Jackson (10.3) are the only players averaging in double figures for the Cowboys.
Wyoming is averaging 59 points and shooting 39.3 percent in three games against Division I opponents this season. The Cowboys have lost 13 in a row to Top 25 teams.
Missouri leads the series 3-1, but these teams haven't met since 1981.
The Tigers and Cowboys will face either Providence or LaSalle in their respective final games in Mexico on Wednesday night.