Missouri-Oklahoma Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated February 06, 2012
The last time Missouri earned a thrilling win over a high-profile opponent, it lost its next game in the Sooner State. The fourth-ranked Tigers will try to avoid a repeat and hold on to their share of the Big 12 lead as they play at Oklahoma on Monday night during another stop on their conference farewell tour. With Marcus Denmon leading the way, Missouri (21-2, 8-2) rallied from an eight-point deficit in the final 2 1/2 minutes Saturday to edge archrival and No. 8 Kansas 74-71. The Tigers' leading scorer had nine of his 29 points during his team's game-closing 11-0 run, including the tiebreaking 3-pointer with 56 seconds left. "I think that our experience really helped us out," said Denmon, who made 10 of 16 shots after connecting at only a 25.6 percent clip over the three previous games. The senior guard had 17 points during an 89-88 win at then-No. 3 Baylor on Jan. 21 and matched that total at Oklahoma State four days later. Denmon, though, missed 12 of 16 shots in that 79-72 defeat to the Cowboys. To help focus on the trip to Oklahoma, Tigers coach Frank Haith put his team in a local hotel Saturday night. With Baylor hosting Kansas on Wednesday, Missouri needs a win to keep pace with the victor in that game. "You can't just sit here and say (the matchup with Kansas) was an ordinary game because it's not. It's always good to beat them, but we've got Oklahoma on Monday," guard Michael Dixon said. With 13 points, Dixon was one of four players in double figures during an 87-49 romp over Oklahoma at home Jan. 3. Kim English had 23 points and Denmon chipped in 20 during one of their team's best shooting performances of the season (59.3 percent). The Sooners entered that conference opener 10-2 under first-year coach Lon Kruger but have lost four of five heading into this matchup, including their first home defeat to an unranked opponent. Iowa State was 15 of 30 from 3-point range during a 77-70 win Saturday and spoiled a career-best performance from Oklahoma's Andrew Fitzgerald. The junior forward had 27 points but couldn't prevent his team from dropping to 9-3 at home. "We have got to keep working," Kruger said. "We have a long way to go. As disappointing as this is, there is obviously not much time to let up before we play again. We have got to bounce back and make some progress and get better for Monday." The Sooners' other two losses at the Noble Center were to Kansas and Baylor, but the next ranked opponent to visit Norman has struggled there lately. Missouri, 3-2 in conference road games, has lost in its last two trips to Oklahoma, most recently a 66-61 defeat on Jan. 16, 2010. The Tigers shot 35.9 percent during that loss and had only one player in double figures, the injured Laurence Bowers. The Sooners (13-9, 3-7) have dropped three straight to ranked Missouri teams - the last two by a combined 61 points - each coming since the beginning of last February. The Tigers have lost 65 of their 85 all-time games at Oklahoma heading into their final visit there before leaving for the SEC. The Sooners also lead the series 112-96.
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