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Missouri men's basketball balances finals week and win over Kennesaw State

Thursday, December 15, 2011 | 11:24 p.m. CST; updated 12:19 a.m. CST, Friday, December 16, 2011

COLUMBIA — The Missouri men's basketball team had more to worry about this week than Thursday night's game against Georgia's Kennesaw State University.

It was also finals week for the student athletes, with Friday marking the last day of the semester. Thursday morning, junior Michael Dixon tweeted, "Big day today. Last final of the semester and Kennesaw State @ 7 trying to win both."

Coming off the bench, Dixon tied senior Ricardo Ratliffe as the leading scorer with 18 points. When asked after the game which he was more stressed about this week, finals or the game, he answered with a definitive "finals."

Senior Matt Pressey was too excited about playing basketball to be worried about finals. 

"You're gonna have finals, you're gonna have things like that," Pressey said. "But any time we get to lace 'em up, man, it's fun."

Dixon hot off the bench

After starting 17 games last season as a sophomore, Dixon is yet to start a game.

He is what coach Frank Haith referred to as the Tigers' "sixth man."

"I like having a guy that can come off the bench that has the sense to be able to be a weapon," Haith said.

Haith has reiterated multiple times Dixon will play the same amount of time regardless of whether he starts.

"The biggest thing is guys understanding that it's not necessarily who starts the game, it's who finishes," Haith said. "The only thing he doesn't get is to hear his name called out and slap five with everybody. But he'll play the same amount of minutes whether he's starting or coming off the bench."

Dixon has averaged 26.2 minutes per game this season, three minutes less than his point guard counterpart sophomore Phil Pressey. 

Tougher competition ahead

On Sunday, the Tigers play their final nonconference home game against the College of William and Mary. Missouri then faces No. 19 Illinois on Dec. 22 at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis for the annual Braggin' Rights game.

Missouri finishes nonconference play with the calendar year, traveling to Norfolk, Va., to play Old Dominion University on Dec. 30.


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