Keith Ramsey’s block at the start of the game symbolized how the Missouri men's basketball felt heading into Saturday’s game against Colorado.
When the Colorado player broke past the Missouri guards for what looked like an easy layup, Ramsey sprang into the air. He swatted the ball with the power of a volleyball spike, sending it halfway down the court. Ramsey, who was held scoreless against Texas A&M on Wednesday, had the intensity of someone out for revenge.
“I just wanted to play hard, and prove myself and don’t let my coach down,” Ramsey said. “Coach depends on me to get the rebounds and do the small things, so I wanted to do that for my team.”
Much like Ramsey, the Missouri men’s basketball team appeared to be playing for revenge. The Tigers had lost their first home game in more than a year Wednesday against Texas A&M. Missouri used intensity to force Colorado (11-12, 2-7) into 16 turnovers and used its barrage of traps and pressure to hold the Buffaloes best player, Cory Higgins, to 15 points. The result meant an 84-66 victory at the Coors Events Center, just the second win on the road all season for the Tigers.
“We felt terrible after that loss at home,” Ramsey said. “So we wanted to come home with the win.”
Missouri (17-6, 5-3) had the game well in hand early into the second half. Missouri used a 12-4 run in the second half to extend its 12-point halftime lead to 20. The Tigers played so well they made the away arena seem like it was full of Missouri fans. The only audible noise halfway through the second half were the familiar chants of M-I-Z, Z-O-U.
“I thought we came out in the second half and really took the fight to them,” Missouri coach Mike Anderson said. “And I thought they got tired.”
Missouri never let Colorado get comfortable on offense. During one possession, Colorado got trapped in the corner of its backcourt and was forced to call a quick timeout only to have the ball stolen the next play.
On offense Missouri used a balanced attack against Colorado. The team focused on getting the ball to the forwards for layups early rather than shooting mainly 3-point shots like it did against the Aggies. Ramsey and Justin Safford finished with 20 points combined, eight more than against Texas A&M.
“Coach emphasized that. We had to start going back to what we do,” Ramsey said. “So that’s what we did. We let the shots come to us.”
Missouri started the game slowly, but Ramsey said that is part of the difficulties of the road. The Tigers didn’t score for the first two minutes until guard Kim English made his first of four 3-point baskets. English finished with 14 points in the half and 20 overall and helped propel Missouri’s 12-2 run to give Missouri a 13-point lead at halftime.
Missouri, which has had trouble holding onto large leads never led by less than seven the rest of the game. Though it was a blowout, Ramsey said the win taught the team how to maintain a lead.
“Every win on the road is good, but we still got four more on the road and need to protect our house (also),” Ramsey said. “But it is a good statement for us.”