COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Marcus Denmon scored 22 points to lead five Missouri players in double figures, and the No. 24 Tigers rode a hot-shooting first half to an easy 83-52 win over Niagara on Thursday night.
Kim English added 14 points and seven rebounds, and Ricardo Ratliffe, Matt Pressey and sixth-man Michael Dixon scored 12 points each for Missouri (3-0) in its final regional game of the College Basketball Experience Classic before facing Notre Dame and either California or Georgia next week.
Juan’ya Green and Antoine Mason led Niagara (1-1) with 10 points each. The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference school shot 34 percent overall and made just five of its 26 attempts from long range, all in the second half once the game was out of hand.
Missouri went 12 of 22 from beyond the arc, nine of those coming in the first half on 14 attempts. Missouri also had 13 steals – led by point guard Phil Pressey with five – and forced 16 turnovers.
Missouri’s four-guard lineup repeatedly beat the similarly undersized Purple Eagles to loose balls and long rebounds. The Purple Eagles play just as small, with four guards and a 6-foot-8 forward as starters. Other than 6-foot-9 reserve Steve Moore, the 6-foot-8 Ratliffe is Missouri’s tallest player.
Niagara scored the game’s first point but was never in it after that. Missouri led by as many as 40 points midway through the second half after a 26-9 run, allowing coach Frank Haith to insert little-used walk-on Jarrett Sutton with 11 minutes remaining. He was joined by fellow walk-on Andy Rosburg in the game’s final minutes.
Phil Pressey, who led Missouri with five assists, capped the first half with a 3-pointer at the buzzer, giving Missouri a 45-22 lead, its biggest of the game at that point. Missouri began the second half the same way it closed the first, with a Denmon 3-pointer from the left corner extending the lead to 26 points.
Denmon was 5 for 8 from 3-point range, English was 4 of 6 and Matt Pressey 2 of 3. Missouri’s 12 treys topped its previous season high against Mercer by one.
The Tigers’ 3-point shooting percentage of 55 percent easily exceeded their success from two-point range, where they shot under 24 percent and converted just 13 baskets.
Missouri extended its school-record winning streak over nonconference opponents at home to 61 games, dating to their 2005-06 season opener.
Copyright Associated Press