GAME NOTES: The Missouri Tigers set their sights on continued success as they head to the Lloyd Noble Center for a Big 12 Conference battle with the Oklahoma Sooners this evening.
This will be the 209th meeting in the all-time series. Although Oklahoma holds a 112-96 series lead, Missouri has won eight of the last 12 meetings, including an 87-49 victory earlier this season in Columbia.
Head coach Frank Haith saw his team's record reach 21-2 overall after it outlasted rival Kansas to pick up a 74-71 decision on Saturday. The Tigers were excellent on the offensive end in the contest, as they shot 52.1 percent from the field and made 10-of-22 from three-point range to push past the Jayhawks. The superb offensive performance was not much of a surprise however, as Missouri leads the Big 12 in scoring at 80.9 ppg. The Tigers are also a very solid team defensively, as they have held conference opponents to 67.1 ppg. Oklahoma is one of three teams that Missouri held to 51 points or less.
Marcus Denmon has the starring role in Missouri's lineup this season. The senior guard is third in the conference in scoring with an average of 17.7 ppg after his spectacular 29-point and nine-rebound performance in the win over Kansas. Denmon showed his ability to hurt defenses from anywhere against the Jayhawks, as he poured in 6-of-9 from long range. Senior forward Ricardo Ratliffe is a very efficient big man as he leads the nation in field goal percentage (74.7) and the team in rebounding (6.6). Kim English and Michael Dixon have also shown the ability to light up the scoreboard, while Phil Pressey leads the conference with 5.9 assists per contest.
Head coach Lon Kruger has lead Oklahoma to a 13-9 record so far this season. The Sooners were handed their second loss in a row and fourth in five games by Iowa State on Saturday as they dropped a 77-70 decision to the Cyclones. Oklahoma held a 36-26 advantage in the rebounding battle versus Iowa State, but could not slow down the Cyclones as they hit 15-of-30 from three-point range to best the Sooners. The loss put the Sooners in a tie for second to last place in the Big 12 standings. Oklahoma is ranked last in scoring defense as it is allowing opponents to net 68.5 ppg. The Sooners are averaging 71.9 ppg on the offensive end.
Steven Pledger is pacing the Sooners with an average of 17.6 points per game on 47.7 percent shooting from the field and 44.9 percent shooting from long range. Pledger's 2.7 makes from beyond the arc is leading the Big 12, while his scoring average is fourth. Sam Grooms is ranked 10th in the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.0) and third in the conference in assists (5.7). Andrew Fitzgerald has scored in double figures in 16 of the last 17 games to average 14.9 ppg during that span. Romero Osby is a solid contributor with 12.5 points and 7.8 rebounds per outing.
Missouri is the superior team and should be able to get past Oklahoma for the second time this season. The Tigers will not be able to dominate and defeat the Sooners easily like they did in their 38-point victory last month, but Haith's team has shown the ability to win away from home against teams better than Oklahoma.