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December 2, 2011
Earlier this week, Frank Haith said he was sure a tough loss-or at least a close game-was coming. It didn't happen Friday night.
In front of the biggest crowd of the season by far (an announced 12,252) at Mizzou Arena, the Tigers rolled to 7-and-0 on the season with a 90-56 demolition of Northwestern State.
Three Tigers set career-highs on the night. Marcus Denmon went off for 31, the most by a Tiger in two seasons. Michael Dixon Jr. and Ricardo Ratliffe also set career-best marks with 19 and 22 respectively.
"We got a lot of guys who can score," Haith said.
"My teammates were finding me in open spots," Denmon said. "I take those shots every day in practice, continue to work on them and tonight they were falling for me."
This one was over early. The first half in which Missouri shot 62% from the floor was highlighted by an 18-0 run. Missouri is now shooting 56.7% from the floor in its last three games. That is highlighted by Ratliffe, who made 10-of-11 shots and is now shooting a Big 12 best 74.1% on the season.
"I just commend the guards because they just find me in places I can score real easy," Ratliffe said. "When they penetrate and my man moves over, I got a layup. I just try to have my hands ready because I know they're coming in there looking for me and try to finish every chance I get.
"I just believe I can make every shot. So I just try to do that."
Just in case there was any doubt about a 26-point lead at the break, Missouri started the second half on an 11-0 run highlighted by eight points from Ratliffe.
But the real exclamation point came with 9:42 to play. Dixon lofted an alley-oop to Denmon who jammed it home and drew a foul. The dunk made Denmon the first Tiger to score 30 points in a game since DeMarre Carroll did it in January of 2009. And this Tiger team is starting to evoke discussions of that one, which set a school record with 31 wins and bulled its way to the Elite Eight in March.
"We've done some things well, but we're still a hungry group," Denmon said. "I feel that us starting off 7-and-0, it's good, but it's something that we want to build on as a team. It's not something that we're satisfied with at all."
"7-and-0 is good and all that, but it doesn't really mean anything," Dixon said. "We've got to get ready for a real good and similar team to us in Villanova."
Missouri has won its seven games this season by an average of 27.8 points with no one coming closer than 15. Up next is a trip to New York City. The Tigers face Villanova at 6:00 in Madison Square Garden as part of the Jimmy V Classic.
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