Missouri-Texas Tech Preview
By NOEY KUPCHAN
(AP) -- An emotional win on senior night help Missouri regroup from a bit of a rough patch.
A matchup against the Big 12's last-place team could help the seventh-ranked Tigers carry plenty of momentum into next week's conference tournament.
Missouri looks to set a new school record regular-season wins when it concludes its schedule Saturday with a visit to Texas Tech.
Four days after suffering their only home loss 78-68 to Kansas State, the Tigers (26-4, 13-4) fell 87-86 in overtime at then-No. 4 Kansas last Saturday. Missouri got back on track following its first back-to-back defeats of the season by beating Iowa State 78-72 in Wednesday's home finale.
Seniors Marcus Denmon, Kim English and Ricardo Ratliffe combined for 43 points while junior Michael Dixon scored a game-high 21 off the bench.
"We want to give these guys a win every time we step out on the floor, not just on senior night," said Dixon, averaging 17.1 points on 59.1 percent shooting over his last nine games.
The win over the Cyclones not only locked up the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament, but also moved Missouri into a tie with the 1989-90 team for most regular-season wins in the program's history. The Tigers have to like their chances of breaking that mark, given that they've won their last six meetings with the Red Raiders (8-21, 1-16).
Missouri has outscored Texas Tech by an average of 10.3 points during that streak, which continued with a 63-50 home victory Jan. 28. However, only one win in the current run has taken place in Lubbock - a 94-89 overtime win Jan. 13, 2010. Prior to that, the Tigers had dropped four straight visits to Texas Tech.
While Texas Tech may not be the most formidable of opponents, Tigers coach Frank Haith doesn't want his team to get ahead of itself - especially with the postseason just around the corner.
"We really have to stay true to what we've done all year. We have to continue to do our preparation work how we've done it all year," Haith said. "This team is used to doing things, and we've been pretty consistent in how we've prepared our guys."
The Red Raiders, whose lone conference win came 65-47 over Oklahoma on Feb. 11, have since been outscored by an average of 18.6 points during a five-game losing streak.
Texas Tech trailed 40-15 by halftime Monday en route to a 77-48 loss at No. 9 Baylor. Freshman Jordan Tolbert was the only Red Raiders player to reach double figures with 19 points.
"We couldn't make any plays. Couldn't finish at the basket, couldn't get to the foul line, couldn't make open shots," coach Billy Gillispie said. "And then they got a great deal of confidence, and it just kind of steamrolled against us."
No Big 12 team has finished with fewer than two league wins since Colorado - now a member of the Pac 12 - went 1-15 in 2008-09.
While Denmon, English and Ratliffe have dominated the headlines for Missouri, Phil Pressey is quietly enjoying a superb campaign. The 5-foot-10 sophomore broke Anthony Peeler's single-season school assists record with four Wednesday, giving him 183 on the season.
Pressey matched a career-high with 12 assists in the Jan. 28 win over Texas Tech.
Updated March 2, 2012