Tigers take on Red Raiders in Big 12 finaleMar 3, 2012 - 3:58 PM Lubbock, TX (Sports Network) - The seventh-ranked Missouri Tigers set their sights on sole possession of second-place in the Big 12, when they close out the regular season on the road this afternoon at Texas Tech.
The Tigers were in the hunt for the league title almost the entire season, but suffered back-to-back losses in late February to Kansas State and Kansas, allowing the Jayhawks to capture yet another conference crown. Missouri got back in the win column this week, closing out its home slate with a 78-72 win over Iowa State. With the victory, the team moved to 13-4 in conference play and secured the two-seed in the upcoming Big 12 Tournament.
The league slate has been tough on the Red Raiders. Billy Gillespie's first season in Lubbock has not gone according to plan. Texas Tech is a miserable 1-16 in Big 12 action, residing in the conference cellar. The team has dropped five straight games since its only league win on Feb. 11 at Oklahoma (65-47). The Red Raiders were routed by Baylor in Waco this week, 77-48.
Missouri holds a 15-7 advantage in the series with Texas Tech and is seeking the regular-season sweep after posting a 63-50 win in Columbia on Jan. 28.
Despite lacking ideal size with a typical four-guard set most nights, Missouri has no problem generating offense, ranking first in the Big 12 in scoring (79.7 ppg), field-goal percentage (.499) and scoring margin (+14.2). Senior guard Marcus Denmon leads the team and ranks second in the Big 12 at 18.0 ppg. Fellow guard Kim English (13.9 ppg) adds to the perimeter assault, as he and Denmon have combined for 151 three-pointers. Ricardo Ratliffe (13.9 ppg, 7.2 rpg) provides a presence in the frontcourt, while Michael Dixon (13.3 ppg) is one of the top sixth men in the nation. Point guard Phil Pressey is charged with running the offense, and leads the Big 12 in assists (6.1 apg), as well as showing the ability to score himself (9.9 ppg).
The Tigers shot an efficient .547 from the floor in the six-point win over the Cyclones this week. Dixon led five Tigers in double figures with a game-high 21 points. Ratliffe poured in 16 points in the win, followed by Denmon (14 pts), English (13 pts) and Phil Pressey (11 pts).
Jordan Tolbert netted a game-high 19 points, but it was a wasted effort in a 29-point loss to Baylor. The Red Raiders, who committed 18 turnovers, also struggled shooting the ball (.354) and on the glass, getting outrebounded 37-25.
A lack of scoring depth has been the main culprit behind Texas Tech's season. The Red Raiders are averaging a mere 59.5 ppg this year and came into the final week of the season ranked 316th in the nation in scoring. Tolbert is the only player on the roster averaging double figures at 11.6 ppg. He is shooting .515 from the floor and also paces the team in rebounding (5.8 rpg). Ty Nurse (8.8 ppg), Javarez Willis (8.5 ppg) and Jaye Crockett (8.4 ppg) provided limited depth.
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