COLUMBIA — It was a play that the Missouri men's basketball team lives for.
First, there was Missouri's Ricardo Ratliffe blocking the shot of Arkansas-Pine Bluff's Marcel Mosley. Then there was Missouri’s Kim English gathering up the rebound. Next was English passing to Michael Dixon, Jr., who was running toward Missouri's basket. Finally, there was Dixon firing a pass to forward Laurence Bowers, who emphatically slammed it in to give the Tigers a 79-57 lead and get the Missouri fans out of their seats.
“That’s what we do,” English said. “That’s what we practice doing every day: steals, assists, dunks. And it felt good to see it, and hopefully, we’ll be seeing that more in the future.”
The Tigers used their full-court, pressure defense Sunday to beat Arkansas-Pine Bluff 91-63. Playing at this up-tempo pace is something Missouri (5-0) struggled to do consistently in its first four games of the season.
Missouri scored 30 points off of Arkansas-Pine Bluff’s turnovers, however, the added pressure didn’t seem to phase the Golden Lions until the second half. The Golden Lions only trailed by two at halftime.
“We started out sloppy on offense with some careless mistakes, but we played good defense early on to stay ahead,” Missouri coach Mike Anderson said. “I thought our guys responded well and kept up the pressure after halftime.”
Missouri began the second half on a 16-1 run using its full-court press again. That run essentially sealed the game for the Tigers.
"In the first half, we just didn’t convert on the steals we had, where as we did in the second half," Dixon said.
In addition to Missouri’s defensive pressure, Arkansas-Pine Bluff succumbed to its lack of depth. The Golden Lions only brought eight players to Columbia, while, Missouri dressed 13 players. Five players on Arkansas-Pine Bluff’s roster were recently scratched, four due to academic ineligibility, and the other to an injury. That left the Golden Lions with few replacements as the starters began to wear down from Missouri’s constant pressure in the second half.
Ratliffe finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Bowers had 18 points.