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In a season of dominant performances, perhaps never has Missouri been more in control than the first half of a 94-56 win against William & Mary on Sunday. The Tigers led 44-18 at the break, but even that does not define the dominance.
Just more than 11 minutes and 30 seconds into the game, Tim Rusthoven hit a three-pointer for the Tribe.
"Teams are going to make some shots," Frank Haith said.
Honestly, for a while, that wasn't a sure thing. The three was noteworthy because it was the first time a ball had gone through the William & Mary basket. The Tigers held the Tribe scoreless for the first 11:33 of the game.
"We really talked about staying solid, not just trying to take the ball from guys," Kim English said. "Against these teams that are so disciplined and smart, you really have to stick to your defensive principles and coach really harped on that all week. We did a good job of that for the first half."
By the time the Tribe found a way to make a shot, it had turned the ball over 10 times and Missouri held a 19-0 lead.
"I've been in a couple of those," Haith said. "The ball just wouldn't go in."
Offense was little needed on this day, but the Tigers got the bulk of it from junior Michael Dixon Jr.. Dixon made 13-of-19 shots on his way to a career-high shattering 30 points. Dixon's previous high was 19 on December 2nd against Northwestern State.
"I think I'm just fortunate to make some shots early on and that kind of got me going," Dixon said. "My teammates and our offense puts me in good situations to make shots. It's just a tribute to them and this offense and coach."
English added 17, Matt Pressey and Ricardo Ratliffe 11 apiece on a night when Marcus Denmon was held under ten for the first time in 21 games (since February 12, 2011). But Dixon, the Tigers' sixth man, was the star.
"Mike has really bought into the role," Haith said. "Mike knows his value. He knows how I feel about him. I love the kid. I love him. I love everything about him."
Missouri now has four days of practice prior to Thursday's Braggin' Rights game against Illinois. The Fighting Illini are 10-1 after losing 64-48 to UNLV on Saturday. They face Cornell on Monday. The Tigers are 11-and-0 for the first time in 20 seasons. That year, they beat the Illini 81-44. Mizzou enters the Braggin' Rights game unbeaten for the first time since 2002-03 when it was 6-and-0. The Tigers fell to Illinois 85-70 that year.
Game at a Glance
Player of game… Gotta be Dixon. He came into the game shooting just 37.8%, second worst among Missouri's regulars. But he hit 13-of-19 on his way to a career-high 30 and for much of the first half had more points than the entire William and Mary team. Dixon now has 48 points on 18-of-31 shooting in his last two games.
Play of game… We'll split the honors between a pair of alley-oops. Phil Pressey drove the lane and lofted a pass to his brother Matt who stuffed it. Later in the first half, Dixon fired an alley-oop pass from the three-point line that Denmon caught on the left side of the basket. He hung in the air and went under the hoop, putting in a reverse layup for two.
Number of the day… 693. Number of seconds it took the Tribe to score. William and Mary missed its first six shots from the floor, its first two free throws and had 10 turnovers before making a basket with 7:25 to go in the first half.
It was over when… William and Mary finally scored. In all honesty, it was over much sooner. But the Tigers had a 17-0 lead by the time they got on the board.
Quotable… "We had a great talk before the game about resisting complacency. You're either getting better or you're getting worse. So this is a great time for everyone on our team, don't revel in our 11-and-0 start. Get better. Continue to push on." --English on the Tigers' start to the season
Up next… Mizzou takes on Illinois in the Braggin' Rights game in St. Louis at 8:00 p.m. The game will be televised on ESPN2.
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