Ratliffe scores 21 points to take Mizzou to 16-1
By Darren Hellwege
Photos by Kaveh Kaghazi
The Missouri Tigers present several challenges to a defense, one of the biggest being how to stop the Tigers inside. Texas center Clint Chapman drew the duty on Saturday. When he picked up his second foul less than five minutes into the game, a big door opened up for the Tigers offense and Senior Ricardo Ratliffe stepped right through.
Mizzou's Phil Pressey (1) scored 18 points to go along with 10 assists and zero turnovers.
Ratliffe scored 21 points, one off his career high, to lead the Tigers past Texas 84-73. The win moves Mizzou to 16-1 overall, and 3-1 in the Big 12. Texas is now 12-5 and 2-2 in the league. Texas was lead by 34 points from J’Covan Brown.
“They just had to keep bringing people in and when they come off the bench, they’re usually not as talented,” said Ratliffe. “Our guards just find me in a good spot.” In fact, Ratliffe said his guards make such crisp passes that he has to always keep his hands ready because they surprise him with a pass three or four times a game.
There are several talented guards on the team, but the guy who orchestrates is all is the point guard Phil Pressey, scoring 18 points. But perhaps more impressive is that he had 10 assists and no turnovers. As much as his play was appreciated by his teammates, it also caught the eye of the guy whose team he helped beat.
“He’s as impressive as any I’ve seen all year,” said Texas coach Rick Barnes. That’s high praise, given that Texas has played not only preseason Big 12 favorite Texas A&M (the Tigers next opponent) but one of the nation’s best teams, North Carolina.
Pressey’s own coach also loves what the sophomore from Dallas gives his team.
“Phil’s just real good,” said Tiger coach Frank Haith. “We get leadership from our seniors, especially Marcus (Denmon) and Kimmie (English) but Phil is becoming a really good leader. He orchestrates it all, making the right decisions.”
The Tigers jumped to an early lead with Denmon hitting a 3-pointer to start the Tiger scoring, one of four he would hit in the first half on six attempts. The Horns kept it close early for a while but after a 3-pointer by Brown made it 14-14, the Tigers went on a 23-7 run for their largest lead of the half.
But the Longhorns would put their own run together. After Brown made two free throws about mid-way through the second half, the Tiger lead was only five and the sold-out Mizzou Arena was nearly silent.
That’s when Phil Pressey took over, hitting a three-pointer to wake up the crowd. Then, after being fouled by Brown, he hit two free throws to extend the lead to 10 and when he stole a Texas pass and lifted his 5’10” frame up for a slam dunk, the Tigers “Sixth Man” was at their finest, shaking the building with joyous racket.
The next Tiger basket showed Pressey at his more traditional role, as he made an assist on a pass to Steve Moore who took it for an easy layup. By then, the Tigers were back up by 12, the crowd was enlivened and Texas was on the way to its third straight road loss.
In addition to the 21 from Ratliffe and 18 from Pressey, the Tigers got another 18 from Denmon and 14 from English. Denmon had 11 rebounds, but the Longhorns out-rebounded the Tigers 36-26, about the only stat they lead on the day.
• Ratliffe ended the game having shot 10-12 from the field. He leads the nation in field goal percentage, shooting .768 coming into the game. The Tigers as a team also lead the nation in shooting, finishing this game at 53.7 percent, an improvement over their previous mark of 51.1 percent.
• Brown scored 34 points, including his 1,000th career point. Today’s total was one shy of his career high.
• Mizzou introduced a long list of former players during halftime, from recent grads like T.J. Soyoye and Jason Sutherland to some of the superstars of the Norm Stewart era like John Brown. But the warmest welcome had to be a roaring ovation for twin brothers Charles and Beau Minx, who played for George Edwards on Tiger teams of the mid-1940s. The Minx brothers, who wore matching MU letter jackets, celebrated their 92nd birthday today.
• Mizzou returns quickly to the Norm Stewart Court, playing the Texas A&M Aggies on Monday at 4:30 p.m. The Aggies tied with Kansas atop the preseason Big 12 poll, but they’ve struggled to a 1-3 start in the league. They beat Texas Tech, who are last in the league, 67-54 on Saturday.
• The Tigers travel to Waco, Texas, to face the Baylor Bears on Saturday, Jan. 21. Baylor is off to the best start in school history at , 17-0. Baylor is the only Div. 1 school with both basketball teams unbeaten.
UT forward Alexis Wangmene (20) boxes out Steve Moore (32). The Longhorns pulled down 16 offensive rebounds compared to Missouri’s eight.
Frank Haith gives instructions to his team during a timeout in the second half. The Tigers 16-1 start is tied for the third-best in school history.
World Series MVP David Freese signed autographs at Mizzou Arena before the game as part of the Cardinals caravan.
Texas center Clint Chapman (53) shoots over Ricardo Ratliffe (10). Chapman played only 16 minutes after getting in foul trouble early.
St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Jaimie Garcia (right) and third baseman David Freese (center) spent time with fans before Saturday’s game.
Mizzou’s Phil Pressey (1) scored 18 points to go along with 10 assists and zero turnovers.