COLUMBIA — Laurence Bowers was glad he didn't have to guard Ricardo Ratliffe.
Bowers battles with the junior college transfer enough in practice, so he was glad to see Ratliffe grab rebounds, score inside and swish mid-range jump shots on Saturday against North Florida.
“I actually felt sorry for the other team," Bowers said. “He played the way I’m used to guarding him in practice."
Ratliffe, a transfer from Central Florida Community College, scored 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, his first double-double for Missouri. He seemed more comfortable on the court than in Missouri’s first game, a characteristic Missouri mirrored in its 96-58 victory at Mizzou Arena.
Ratliffe's effort was best displayedwith less than 14 minutes left to play. Steve Moore fired up a 3-pointer. The shot missed, but Ratliffe was there to tip it into the basket.
The next offensive possession for Missouri, a similar play occurred. This time Matt Pressey missed a 3-pointer, and Ratliffe rebounded the ball and scored again.
“He looked like the player we think he’s capable of,” Missouri coach Mike Anderson said.
Ratliffe showed that potential as he ran the floor to score his final two points on a fast break layup.
Missouri, like Ratliffe, improved in its second game of the season.
The Tigers struggled Thursday in their opener, a five-point victory against Western Illinois. The Leathernecks kept the game close, chewing up the clock with lengthy offensive play. Since the Tigers were forced into a possession game, they were never able to put the game out of reach.
“I asked our guys, let’s get better from the game the other night, and I thought they did,” Anderson said.
Missouri responded on Saturday. The Tigers played their style of basketball, using their stifling defense to mount a second-half run. They outscored North Florida by 30 in the second half while holding the Ospreys scoreless in the final seven minutes.
Leading by four points with 14:16 left in the game, Marcus Denmon's 3-pointer started an 11-0 run. Denmon led Missouri in scoring with 18 points. The lead became comfortable enough that every player entered the game, except freshman Kadeem Green who is considering taking a medical redshirt for the season to recover from an Achilles' tendon injury suffered during his senior year in high school.
Sophomore forward John Underwood made the most of his three minutes. He scored three points on a powerful dunk and a free throw and blocked two shots.