Missouri just avoids letdown vs. Sooners

Guard Marcus Denmon, who led Missouri with 25 points, cuts in front of Oklahoma’s Cameron Clark on a drive to the basket during the first half. The Tigers’ 71-68 win moves them into first place in the Big 12 by half a game over Baylor and Kansas.

Associated Press

Guard Marcus Denmon, who led Missouri with 25 points, cuts in front of Oklahoma’s Cameron Clark on a drive to the basket during the first half. The Tigers’ 71-68 win moves them into first place in the Big 12 by half a game over Baylor and Kansas.

NORMAN, Okla. — Sandwiched between an emotionally charged victory against archrival Kansas and a top 10 showdown with first place on the line, No. 4 Missouri faced a test of its collective focus.

The Tigers passed — barely.

Marcus Denmon scored 25, Ricardo Ratliffe added 15 points and 10 rebounds and Mizzou (22-2, 9-2) claimed first place in the Big 12 by edging Oklahoma 71-68 on Monday night.

"We understand that this game was just as important as the last one," Denmon said. "Pretty much, we have a veteran group and we just wanted to make sure everybody came out and understood how important this game would be for us to play after a big win like the one at home against Kansas."

Coach Frank Haith required his players to report to a hotel by 2 a.m. after their late-night win over the Jayhawks. Asked whether it was the right move, Denmon and Ricardo Ratliffe looked at each other silently.

Finally, Denmon answered and got a pat on the back from his first-year coach.

"Whether I wanted to go to the hotel or not, I understood," he said. "I understood that it was a good decision by Coach and it seems like it helped us."

NO. 18 MARQUETTE 89, DEPAUL 76: Darius Johnson-Odom scored 23 for the visiting Golden Eagles (20-5, 9-3 Big East), who rallied from a 41-29 first-half deficit.

NO. 24 LOUISVILLE 80, UCONN 59: Gorgui Dieng returned from a sprained right ankle to score 15 as the host Cardinals (19-5, 7-4 Big East) won their fifth in a row.

ALABAMA: Coach Anthony Grant suspended starting forward Tony Mitchell indefinitely for conduct detrimental to the team.

TAMPA: Senior Ashton Graham, a former Gaither standout, was named Sunshine State Conference player of the week.

AP POLL: FSU moved up six spots to No. 15. Kentucky was No. 1 for a third straight week.

Women

NO. 1 BAYLOR 81, OKLAHOMA 54: Brittney Griner had 27 points, eight rebounds and eight blocks as the Bears (24-0, 11-0 Big 12) won their 36th straight home game.

NO. 5 DUKE 96, NO. 22 UNC 56: Tricia Liston scored 16 of her 23 during a 39-12 first-half run that helped the host Blue Devils (19-3, 10-0 ACC) rout the Tar Heels (17-6, 7-3).

NO. 8 MARYLAND 64, NO. 22 GA. TECH 56: The visiting Terrapins (20-3, 7-3 ACC) snapped a four-game winning streak by the Yellow Jackets (17-7, 7-4).

NO. 10 OHIO ST. 72, WISCONSIN 58: The host Buckeyes (21-2, 8-2 Big Ten) beat the Badgers for the 20th straight time.

AP POLL: Miami moved up to No. 6, matching the best in school history. Baylor remained a unanimous No. 1.

Missouri just avoids letdown vs. Sooners 02/06/12 [Last modified: Monday, February 6, 2012 11:46pm]

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