Kansas City Homecoming Bodes Well for Tigers
By, Eliza Smith
No. 24 Missouri improved to 4-0 on the season with a strong 87-58 win over Notre Dame in the championship round of the Progressive CBE Classic.
Marcus Denmon, one of three Tiger Kansas City natives, has averaged 23 points in his last three games at the Sprint Center, and he lit up the arena again with 26 points, just short of his career-high 27, going 9-for-11 from the field, 2-for-3 from deep and 6-for-7 from the charity stripe.
Mizzou has been hot from 3-point land in the opening rounds of the CBE against Mercer and Niagara, shooting 52.3 (23-of-44) percent from the arc — but the Tigers took it to the rim on Monday, hitting 8 of their first 11 field goals, only one of which came from their 3-point stomping grounds. The Tigers continuously got the ball to 6-foot-7 senior forward Ricardo Ratliffe in the opening minutes, who went 4-4 to score eight of their first 15 points.
Missouri continued to push Notre Dame’s defense, scoring 44 points in the paint by the final buzzer.
“Obviously we’re going to make three’s, and the 3-point shot is important for our team because we can shoot that,” head coach Frank Haith said. “But we must play inside-out because there’s going to be some games where we’re not going to make the three. Paint points are extremely important to our success.”
Notre Dame’s Tim Abromaitis lead the first half overall with 18 points in his season debut for the Fighting Irish after completing a four-game suspension, but the Tigers were able to find him and hold him to only six points in the second half.
The Tigers won the rebound game by 14 boards and had three players join Denmon in the double digits — Phil Pressey with 17, Ratliffe with 12 and Kim English with 10. They will play in the championship game at 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday against either California or Georgia.
“To have a performance like that tonight obviously has to give these guys some confidence,” Haith said. “We’re here and we’ve got another game tomorrow. You look across the country and there are a lot of champions that are going to be named this week. We want to have a championship program; winning a championship like tomorrow is important to get our mentality of winning championships. There’s no question — tomorrow we’re going to play another great team and we’ll be excited about the opportunity.”