On Tuesday night at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, the #21 Missouri Tigers (5-0) captured the championship of the CBE Classic with an impressive 92-53 win over the #18 California Golden Bears (4-1).
Missouri completed a run through the Classic, in serving notice of their presence in the college basketball world. The Tigers used their quickness, and an unselfish approach on both ends of the court, to dominate each of their four tournament opponents.
Against California, the Tigers attacked the basket, and the basketball, and began to pull away early. The Golden Bears out-rebounded Missouri 34-27, but shot just 30% from the field, and committed 21 turnovers. Two of California's starters fouled out, and the Bears were generally frustrated by Missouri's aggressive, attacking style, and superior quickness.
"I don't know if we can play any better," said Missouri Head Coach Frank Haith, following Missouri's dominance of the #18 Golden Bears. "We're flying all over the place defensively. We're helping each other. We had great team defense. Other than rebounding early in the ball game, that I can point to, where we didn't have our focus. Then, we started blocking out, and we started getting those rebounds."
Missouri's guards harassed California's with their aggressive half-court man-to-man defense. On offense, Missouri's guards attacked the basket, and the Tigers shared the basketball with exceptional spacing and movement.
Missouri shot 59% from the field, dished out 18 assists, and garnered 10 steals. Kim English led Missouri in scoring, with 19 points, and drew 4 charging fouls on California players. Marcus Denmon, who was named the tournament Most Valuable Player, scored 18 points and grabbed 6 rebounds. The Tigers finished with 6 players who scored in double figures, including Steve Moore, who scored a career-high 10 points.
Walk-on senior guard, Jarrett Sutton, from north of the river in Kansas City, connected on both of his 3-PT attempts to close out the scoring for Missouri.
The Missouri players didn't exactly agree with Coach Haith about their ability to play better. To a man, they recognize that there are a number of things that they need to improve upon. As Denmon said, it's exciting to think about how much better they can be.