Pressey and Dixon point guard combo lead Mizzou to another victory

Story by Darren Hellwege
Photos by Kaveh Kaghazi

They say that winning a college basketball game’s about playing your best for the full 40 minutes. But, sometimes just a few minutes can make a big, big difference.

After falling behind early, the Missouri Tiger men’s basketball team went on a tear, outscoring Texas A&M 28-2 as the Aggies went more than nine minutes without a field goal. The Tigers won 70-51 before a sellout Mizzou Arena crowd of 15,061 fans on the Martin Luther King holiday and a national TV audience on ESPN.

The win puts Missouri at 17-1 on the year and 4-1 in Big 12 play. The Aggies are now 10-7 and a surprising 1-4 in league play, after having been picked in a tie with Kansas atop the Big 12 preseason media rankings.

As usual, the run started with defense. “We started to knock balls loose,” Tiger coach Frank Haith said. “We pressured them, and they took some quick shots.”

There was one other factor: those 15,000 fans. Both Aggie coach Billy Kennedy and junior forward Ray Turner mentioned it, with Turner saying, “The fans had their back, it got loud and we just didn’t execute like we should.”

The run started halfway through the opening 20 minutes as Ray Turner’s layup gave A&M a 17-14 lead. Then they just stopped scoring. For a while the Tigers were equally cold, missing eight shots in a row. But the Tigers then took the game over, in particular guard Mike Dixon who had 16 points at halftime. The Aggies got a couple of free throws in the midst of the run, but by the time Naji Hibbert hit a jumper with about a minute left in the half, the Aggies were pretty much buried, trailing 42-23 at halftime.

The Aggies would score the first seven of the second half to make it a game, but the Tigers took charge again, led by defense and transition baskets. And while Ricardo Ratliffe would score 17 points to almost match the game-high of 18 from Dixon, it was the guard play that had Kennedy impressed afterwards. He had a one-word assessment of Phil Pressey’s play: “incredible,” and said of Dixon “he’s a starter off the bench.”

Tiger coach Frank Haith agreed, noting that he realized when he arrived how blessed he was to have two outstanding point guards like Pressey and Dixon. “It’s a nice luxury to have,” he said.

The team also recognizes the value of having a player like Dixon coming off the bench. “He could start for almost any other team in the nation,” Ratliffe said. Dixon has scored in double figures in seven of the last nine games.

The Tigers got 16 points and a game high nine rebounds from Marcus Denmon.

The Tigers face undefeated Baylor Saturday at 1 p.m.

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One response to “Pressey and Dixon point guard combo lead Mizzou to another victory

  1. Pingback: KC SportsNation » Dixon leads late first-half run as Tigers beat A&M easily, 70-51 (and links) » KC SportsNation

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