No.2 Tigers set sights on CowboysJan 25, 2012 - 3:59 PM Stillwater, OK (Sports Network) - Coming off their biggest win of the season, the second-ranked Missouri Tigers close out a two-game road trip when they take on the Oklahoma State Cowboys in Big 12 action at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater.
Frank Haith's first season at the helm in Columbia has been hugely successful thus far, as the Tigers have won 18 of their first 19 games. The team had a showdown with another top-five foe this past weekend in Waco, and came out on top in a thrilling 89-88 decision over Baylor. The victory was the fourth straight for Missouri, which moved to 5-1 in conference play.
Travis Ford's Cowboys have certainly had their ups and downs this season and the result is a less than stellar 9-10 overall mark. Oklahoma State has really had a tough time in-conference with a mere 2-4 mark. The Cowboys enter this contest with a three-game losing streak in tow, including a 66-58 loss to Kansas State last weekend.
Missouri owns a sizable 75-40 lead in the all-time series with Oklahoma State. Despite the overall lead, the Tigers trail in games played in Stillwater, with the Cowboys holding a 28-21 advantage.
The Tigers aren't the biggest team around, with a four-guard set among the starting five, but they are comfortable in what they do. Missouri is one of the top offensive teams in the country, ranking fourth in scoring (83.4 ppg) and second in field-goal percentage (.509). Marcus Denmon and Kim English are a potent perimeter duo at 17.7 and 14.4 ppg, respectively. Both are shooting over 40 percent from behind the arc and have combined for 98 of the team's 154 three-pointers to date. Ricardo Ratliffe is the top performer in the frontcourt, as the 6-8 senior nets 14.6 ppg and leads the team in rebounding (6.8 rpg). Michael Dixon (12.2 ppg) is a tremendous asset off the bench, while Phil Pressey can both score (10.1 ppg) and get others involved (6.0 apg). Ratliffe was the difference in the one-point win over Baylor this past weekend, erupting for a career-high 27 points and eight rebounds. Denmon poured in 17 points, Phil Pressey added 16 points and seven assists, while Matt Pressey and English chipped in with 11 and 10 points, respectively. It was an offensive slugfest with Baylor shooting 57.1 percent from the floor, while Missouri hit on a 54.5 percent clip.
The Cowboys would be best served to slow things down and grind it out against the Tigers. Oklahoma State has had its most success at the defensive end of the floor, holding opponents to 65.8 ppg on just .394 shooting. Problems have occurred at the offensive end, where OSU is managing just 65.9 ppg on a modest .409 shooting. Keiton Page leads the team with 14.9 ppg, but is converting under 40 percent from the floor (.398). Freshman forward Le'Bryan Nash has shown flashes off brilliant play and is the only other Cowboy currently averaging double digits at 12.5 ppg. It was once again shoddy shooting that did in the Cowboys last time out, as the team netted just 34.8 percent of its shots (16-of-46), including a miserable 1-of-16 showing from three-point range. Page led the team with 17 points, but hit just 1-of-9 from long range. Markel Brown tacked on 14 points in the loss.
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