On Monday night at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, the #21 Missouri Tigers defeated the Notre Dame Fighting Irish by the final score of 87-58. Missouri advances to the CBE Classic Finals against #20 California on Tuesday night (9:00 P.M., ESPN2). The Golden Bears advanced by moving past Georgia.
Coach Frank Haith's Tigers used their superior speed and quickness in the back court to attack Notre Dame on both ends of the court. Marcus Denmon led all scorers with 26 points, on 9-11 shooting, despite playing just 25 minutes due to early foul trouble. Phil Pressey poured in 17 points, and consistently harassed the Notre Dame guards on the other end. The Tigers went to Ricardo Ratliffe early, and he responded with 12 points and 8 rebounds in just 21 minutes of action. Ratliffe too, had gotten into early foul trouble. Missouri shot over 58% from the field, and won the battle of the boards against the bigger Fighting Irish.
This was Missouri's best game of the young season, and afterwards, Coach Haith expressed his pleasure with his team's performance.
"We were executing." said Coach Haith. "I mean, we were taking good shots. Our guys were playing selfless basketball. We were sharing the basketball. We were playing inside out. I thought we were clicking on all cylinders."
"I thought our defense played much better in the second half," explained Coach Haith. "(Offensively), we played great (tonight)! I mean, it's just one game, but we played very well tonight."
Coach Haith talked about his three top players.
"When Ricardo (Ratliffe) gets the touches, he gets into the game," said Coach Haith. "He was very good tonight. He was very good."
"(Phil Pressey) was outstanding," said Coach Haith talking about his sophomore point guard. "He just did a great job of leading this team."
"(Marcus Denmon) is a great player," said Coach Haith, talking about his All-Conference senior guard. "I think we're going to be saying this all year. He had a great night!"
Denmon said that it was fun to play in Kansas City, and he gave credit to his teammates.
"It's always good to be able to play in front of your home fans," began Denmon. "It's always fun, but the most important thing is getting the win, and that's what we went out there and did."
"We just came out together, collectively as a team, and shared the ball, and moved the ball, and we took shots that were open," continued Denmon. "Credit to my teammates. They got me a lot of open looks because of that moving the ball, and screening, and working as a team……………………………….. But, it's really about the other end. If we can get stops, eventually with a team like ours, I feel like we're going to put the ball in the basket."