AIMES, IA – The no. 9 Missouri Tigers overcame a sluggish start to record their first conference road win of the season Wednesday night with a 76-69 victory over the Iowa State Cyclones in Aimes.
“It was a great win for us,” coach Frank Haith said after the game. “ I thought our guys found a way to grind out a road win.”
Mizzou’s depth was tested late in the second half after Kim English and Steve Moore fouled out, leaving the team with just five players for the final minutes of the game.
“We were mentally tough down the stretch, as far as getting stops and rebounding,” Matt Pressey said. “We’ve really grown from that standpoint.”
Pressey was one of six players to score in double figures for the Tigers, who shot almost 52% from the field as a team.
“They’ve bought into playing together as a team,” Haith said. “We’ve got a lot of guys that can score. But we don’t have a lot of guys. It’s no secret. We’re not going to get any taller between now and the end of the year. We’re not going to add any dudes. This is what we got.”
While senior Ricardo Ratliffe finished the game with twelve points and eight rebounds, foul trouble forced him to play conservatively on defense, rendering him basically ineffective against ISU’s Royce White, who finished the game with 16 points.
“I think [Ratliffe] did a great job tonight staying in the game regardless of getting fouls,” Pressey said. “It’s going to happen, big guys are going to come at him and I think he did a terrific job staying in the game.”
With Ratliffe in foul trouble and unable to contain White, coach Frank Haith turned to senior forward Steve Moore. Moore, who entered the game averaging 3.8 points per game, ended up with ten points and nine rebounds.
“I was just trying to do what was expected of me: come off the bench and deliver that spark,” Moore said. “Our guards did a good job of getting me and Ricardo the ball and we were able to capitalize and get points under the basket.”
Phil Pressey (12), Michael Dixon (12), and Kim English (12) also scored in double figures for the Tigers, who are now 15-1 on the season.
Mizzou’s leading scorer Marcus Denmon finished the game with just six points and was the only player who did not score in double figures for the Tigers. Iowa State locked down Denmon throughout the game, limiting him to just eight total shots. Despite being unable to find open looks against the Cyclone defense, Denmon was able to find his open teammates, picking up seven of Mizzou’s 20 assists.
“If we do our job and be aggressive and make plays, they’re going to have to pick their poison,” Pressey said. “If they’re going to deny him and leave guys open, we’re going to step in and make those shots.”
Iowa State led 38-36 at halftime after hitting eight of twelve three-point attempts in the first half, including one from just beyond half court as time expired.
Scott Christopherson led all scorers with 19 points for the Cyclones, who finished with four players in double figures.
ISU’s strong shooting performance was overshadowed by their struggles at the free throw line, where they converted on just 13 of their 25 free throw attempts, and on the glass, where Mizzou out-rebounded them 36-25, despite facing a significant height disadvantage.
“They made the effort plays all night. We executed our game plan perfectly. They make five 3s in 21 attempts. We just weren’t tough enough,” Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg said.
The Tigers return home for a matchup against the Texas Longhorns Saturday afternoon. This is the last time Mizzou will play back-to-back home games until mid-February. Missouri and Texas will tip-off from Mizzou Arena at high noon on Saturday.