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Sometimes, basketball is a pretty simple game. Not much analysis was needed to dissect Missouri's 72-57 win over Baylor on Saturday.
"They just kept shooting," Baylor freshman Quincy Miller said. "And making."
The Tigers and Bears were locked in a one-point game early in the second half, with Mizzou up 38-37. Michael Dixon Jr. made a three. Steve Moore grabbed a rebound on one end and dunked on the other, putting the Tigers up six. From there on out, three was Mizzou's magic number.
Kim English made a three. Phil Pressey hit one. Marcus Denmon connected. Dixon hit again. After a Pressey miss, Dixon added one more. Five triples in six tries put Missouri up 58-43. Baylor would never get closer than 11 the rest of the way.
"Once everybody around the perimeter started hitting threes, it opened up," Dixon said. "That's what they was giving us and that's what we was taking and making today."
It was a conscious decision on Baylor's part to challenge the Tigers to hit the three.
"At the end of the day, when you're playing Missouri, you're going to give up something," Scott Drew said. "We decided we were going to give up the three."
It made sense after Ricardo Ratliffe burned Baylor with 27 points and 15 rebounds in Waco. But after the Tigers hit 14 threes (Dixon, Denmon and Pressey had four apiece while English added two), perhaps the Bears were rethinking their approach.
"They just got hot," said Baylor forward Anthony Jones. "Once one got hot, it seemed like a lot of them got hot."
There were early signs that perhaps this would be a night where shots would fall. In the first half, the first of Pressey's four-three pointers fell. But only after banking in off the glass.
"It just happens like that sometimes," Pressey said with a sheepish grin. "I made it, so that's all that counts."
For all the offensive fireworks, it was the end of the court that pleased Missouri's head coach.
"The big thing about this game, we wanted to get back to establishing our defense, and I thought we did that," Frank Haith said. "I think we pushed Baylor out. If the game is played away from the basket, that's to our advantage."
"Out on the perimeter, Phil did a great job on Pierre Jackson, who drives that team," Dixon said. "It was just a good defensive game on our part."
Game at a Glance
Player of game… Plenty of candidates, but it has to be Phil Pressey. Most of the year, teams had challenged him to make jump shots. He had hit only 16 threes in 64 attempts coming in. His 4-of-7 performance marked the first time all season the sophomore has made more than half of his shots from beyond the arc. While he was held without a first half assist, his 12 points gave Mizzou a four-point halftime lead. After the break, he had seven points and three assists. He also added four rebounds on a day Missouri had trouble grabbing many boards at all.
Play of game… The three-pointers were the story of the day, but the biggest play came inside the arc. Following a Dixon three, Baylor missed a shot and Moore wrestled a rebound away from the Bears. On the other end, the big man took a feed from Denmon and threw down a big dunk. It was Moore's only field goal of the day, but it was also Missouri's biggest. The Tigers led by six and Baylor would never be that close again.
Number of the day… 30. In a game they won by 15, Missouri outscored Baylor by 30 points from beyond the arc. While the Tigers hit 14-of-28 from three-point range, Baylor made only 4-of-17, including an 0-for-5 performance from Jackson, who entered the game second in the league in three-point percentage.
It was over when… The flurry of threes gave Missouri a 15-point edge with eight minutes to play. Baylor has played four games against top ten teams. They had not shown an ability to answer a big run in the previous three. They didn't show that ability today either.
Quotable… "I'll say this. When Missouri is on, nobody in the country is as good as them offensively. Nobody. Period." -- Scott Drew on the Tigers
Up next… Mizzou hosts Oklahoma State on Wednesday night at 8 p.m. The Cowboys beat Mizzou 79-72 in Stillwater on January 25th. The Tigers have won five straight since then while the Cowboys have lost two of four and trail Kansas big right now.
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