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No. 10 Mizzou claws past Villanova

Dec 7, 2011 - 6:29 AM New York, NY (Sports Network) - Marcus Denmon scored a game-high 28 points, as No. 10 Missouri downed Villanova, 81-71, in Tuesday's Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden.

Ricardo Ratliffe added 17 points and 11 rebounds and Kim English chipped in 15 points for the Tigers, who improved to 8-0 for the first time since the 2006-07 season.

Phil Pressey had a career-high 12 assists in the win. He has handed out 29 assists over his last three contests.

"[Pressey's] got eyes not only on the back of his head, but on the side of his head and everywhere else," said Ratliffe. "So as soon as he drives, I just get my hands ready."

Maalik Wayns had 14 points and nine assists to pace the Wildcats (5-3), losers of three of their last four.

Darrun Hilliard added 13 points, while Mouphtaou Yarou and JayVaughn Pinkston finished with 11 and 10 points, respectively, in the loss.

Tuesday's matchup pitted experience versus youth, with the senior-laden Missouri squad proving too much for the inexperienced Wildcats.

The Tigers featured four seniors in their starting lineup, with the exception of Pressey, who has proven a deft facilitator of late.

Pressey hasn't been an offensive threat, scoring just eight points over the last three contests, but has committed just five turnovers compared to his 29 helpers over that span.

Denmon led the cast of senior talent, hitting 6-of-10 three pointers, while adding five rebounds and three assists without committing a turnover.

"It meant a lot for the team," said Denmon. "We knew it was going to be a big win for us and we came out and played well."

Behind his example, the Tigers jumped out to a 42-29 lead at the half.

The Wildcats, who trotted out three freshman in their starting lineup (Pinkston, Achraf Yacoubou and Hilliard), used an energetic burst to crawl back into the game.

Dominic Cheek buried a corner trey midway through the second half to cap a 10-0 Villanova run and make it a 61-55 game.

Missouri, though, scored four straight on a Ratliffe layup and a Pressey steal and breakaway dunk, prompting a Wildcats timeout.

The Tigers' lead increased to 12, 75-63, on English's three-pointer with just over three minutes remaining.

Wayns' up-and-under floater cut the Wildcats' deficit to 75-68 with 1:37 remaining, but Missouri made 6-of-8 free throws down the stretch to seal its 15th 8-0 start in program history.

Game Notes

This was the second ever matchup between the two schools. The Tigers won the first meeting, 72-53, on December 28, 1985...Villanova committed 15 turnovers, compared to eight for Missouri. Additionally, the Tigers handed out 23 assists, compared to 16 for the Wildcats.