No. 2 Missouri holds off Texas Tech 63-50

It was far from a triumphant homecoming for No. 2 Missouri.

Still, coach Frank Haith concentrated on the bottom line after a shaky 63-50 victory over Texas Tech on Saturday that didn't quite flush away all the sour taste from an upset loss at Oklahoma State three days earlier.

Against a team that's winless in the Big 12, Missouri needed a shutdown finish.

“We're a good-shooting ballclub, we just didn't make shots,” Haith said. “We had a lot of great looks. Does that make the game look ugly? But, we won.”

Kim English scored 19 points in the first half, Marcus Denmon had 13 after the break and Phil Pressey matched his career best with 12 assists, giving Missouri just enough to avoid another stumble.

Texas Tech concentrated on shutting down Ricardo Ratliffe, Missouri's lone inside threat who was coming off a pair of big games in which he totaled 52 points and 20 rebounds. Ratliffe was held to eight points and four rebounds and Missouri's four-guard attack didn't make the Red Raiders pay enough, shooting 39 percent.

“It was kind of like a great test,” English said. “If you can't execute, you still have to get stops.”

In the second half, Missouri went more than 7 minutes between baskets. Denmon helped compensate by going 10 for 10 from the free throw line.

“I think Texas Tech did a good job inside and I think if we made shots in the first half it would seem like we played a little bit better,” Denmon said. “But good teams find a way to win, and that's what we did."

Jaye Crockett had 11 points and 11 rebounds and Ty Nurse scored 13 for Texas Tech (7-13, 0-8 Big 12), which shaved a 15-point deficit to seven on Clark Lammert's 3-pointer off the glass at the shot-clock buzzer with 2:36 to go.

Missouri (19-2, 6-2) finished with six straight points, including Ratliffe's dunk in transition with a minute left. Ratliffe started it with a blocked shot, then hustled to the other end as English saved the ball from going out of bounds.

English had 22 points and Denmon added 19 despite 4-for-15 shooting.

Missouri remained unbeaten at home, three days after an upset loss at Oklahoma State ensured a short stay at No. 2 in the rankings. The Tigers' first 11 home victories had been by an average of 27 points.

Keeping it close was small consolation for Texas Tech.

“We have to do something about getting beat all the time,” coach Billy Gillespie said. “I don't like it at all.”

Freshman Jordan Tolbert, the Red Raiders' leading scorer and rebounder, had four points, four rebounds and eight turnovers in 16 minutes while saddled by foul problems. Tolbert played just 2 minutes in the second half.

“He got pushed around a little bit and didn't respond nearly as well as he needs to,” Gillespie said. “But that's part of the education process for a freshman, especially when we don't have a whole lot other than him to help him inside to beat up on someone physically.”

English and Pressey had impressive totals at the half — English with four 3-pointers and Pressey a heavy contributor without taking a shot, racking up seven assists and three steals.

English hit a pair of 3s in the first 90 seconds to fuel a 10-0 opening run, but Missouri missed nine of its next 11 shots as Texas Tech rallied to tie it at 14. English scored nine points in the final 6 minutes, helping build an 11-point cushion before the Red Raiders closed the gap to seven at the break.

Tolbert picked up his third and fourth fouls in the first 1:39 of the second half, the latter a flagrant foul. Denmon hit a pair from the stripe to put Missouri up 35-24.

Heralded national football recruit Dorial Green-Beckham got a huge ovation when he arrived courtside just before game time, escorted by Missouri assistant coach Andy Hill. Fans later chanted “MIZ-DGB!” and Green-Beckham, a wide receiver from Springfield, watched the game from behind the Missouri bench.

English pretended that he hadn't noticed, saying “What? What was going on? DGB?” but then added, “I hope he comes here.”

The wooing continued when most of the football team was introduced during a break in the first half along with a recitation of the school's accomplishments under coach Gary Pinkel. Green-Beckham got a standing ovation on his way off the court, stopping to pose for a picture with Truman the Tiger, the school mascot.

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