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Missouri men's basketball team dominates disciplined Navy team

Saturday, December 10, 2011 | 7:43 p.m. CST; updated 1:49 p.m. CST, Monday, December 12, 2011
Ricardo Raliffe shoots over Navy's Carlton Smith during the first half of the game on Saturday at the Mizzou Arena. Ratliffe missed the shot but went on to score 14 points in Missouri's 84-59 victory.

COLUMBIA — Frank Haith cautioned that Navy would provide a new test for the No. 10 Missouri men's basketball team.

At a news conference Friday, Haith said that Navy (3-8) is a disciplined team, something to be expected from a service academy, and that it is not a team that could be blown out in the first five minutes of a game.

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On Saturday, Navy consistently broke Missouri's full-court press and held on to the ball for long possessions.

The Tigers, which averaged 10.75 steals per game coming into the game, managed just six steals against Navy in an 84-59 win in front of a crowd of 11,529.

Missouri wasn't able to play at a fast pace and force turnovers against Navy. Poor shooting and missed layups ultimately did in the Midshipmen, while Missouri got double-digit scoring from five different players.

"We just had to be patient," said senior Marcus Denmon, who led the team in scoring with 22 points.

"For us to come out here and execute and win by 25, that's a heck of a job," Missouri coach Haith said. "They didn't turn the ball over. They worked us. We had to play defense for 35 seconds. That was good and healthy for us to go through that."

The win gives Missouri a 9-0 record for the first time since 2006, and showed that the Tigers can adjust to different styles of play.

"It's easier to slow teams down than it is to speed teams up," senior guard Kim English said. "They did a good job of playing the game that they wanted, and we adjusted and got out of here with a win."

One person who helped Missouri prepare for Navy's style and will help the Tigers adjust this season is Andrew Jones, a tight end on the Missouri football team who has been practicing with the team. Jones was in uniform Saturday for the first time, and got his first game action in the final minute of the win.

"Bringing in Andrew, me and big Steve (Moore) can actually feel somebody (in practice) going back at us as hard as he can," senior forward Ricardo Ratliffe said.

He said that Jones is still "playing football" even while he is on the basketball court, something that prepared him for the physicality of Navy's forwards.

Ratliffe scored 14 points and pulled down eight rebounds.

The Tigers will play next when they face Kennesaw State on Thursday at Mizzou Arena.


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