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Michael Dixon scores 30 points in win for Missouri basketball team

Sunday, December 18, 2011 | 5:42 p.m. CST; updated 6:52 p.m. CST, Sunday, December 18, 2011
Missouri basketball players Matt Pressey, left, Ricardo Ratliffe, Kim English, Steve Moore, Laurence Bowers and Earnest Ross watch their teammate make a basket Sunday at Mizzou Arena at the end of the game against William and Mary.

COLUMBIA — Michael Dixon doesn't like the term "spark plug."

But what else do you call a player who consistently contributes double-digit scoring efforts coming off the bench?

Maybe we should call him Jason Terry, the guard who averaged 16 points per game coming off the bench for the NBA Champion Dallas Mavericks last season. Missouri coach Frank Haith said Dixon is like Terry because he has bought into his role and will play "starter minutes" coming off the bench this season.

Dixon played 28 minutes Sunday and scored a career-high 30 points in No. 10 Missouri's 94-56 win against William and Mary at Mizzou Arena. His previous career high was 19, which came in a win against Northwestern State earlier this season. 

"He picked his spots and was in attack mode," senior teammate Kim English said.

Dixon seemed energetic in pregame warm-ups, where he was talking to everyone and playfully pushing English and teammate Steve Moore. 

The energy carried into the game, where Dixon was getting in the face of dribblers on defense and finding open shots on offense. He made 13 of those 19 shots.

After hitting a 3-pointer on two consecutive first-half possessions, Dixon made a highlight reel ally-oop to Marcus Denmon on the next possession.

Standing behind the top of the 3-point arc, Dixon lobbed the ball to a cutting Denmon, who caught the ball in the air, ducked underneath the basket and laid in the ball off the backboard.

Dixon said after he saw the player covering Denmon look at him, he "looked at Marcus. Marcus cut like he normally does. I put the ball by the rim, and Marcus made a play."

Dixon is typically known for his energetic defense but has also been making plays on offense.

"I love everything about him," Haith said of Dixon. "His tenacity, his toughness. I think (ESPN announcer Dick) Vitale said he has a lot of swag."

Haith also likes the matchups he gets when he puts Dixon into the game.

"When he subs in, other teams are subbing in," he said. "Mike Dixon is like a starter, so he's playing against another team's subs."

Haith said that even though he doesn't start, Dixon is someone that the Tigers will be able to rely on in close games because of his free-throw shooting.

Dixon is an 85.8 percent free-throw shooter in his career, the best in program history.

The Tigers haven't played in any close games this season, winning every game by at least 10 points. But they could be in a close one Thursday against Illinois at the annual Braggin' Rights game in St. Louis. 

"It's a huge rivalry," English said. "In those games, you can throw the records and rankings out the window."

The Tigers' record is 11-0. With a win against Illinois (10-1), they would be 12-0 for the first time since the 1981-82 season.

Missouri has won the past two games against Illinois after losing nine in a row from 2000 to 2008.

"I'm undefeated so I don't plan on losing to Illinois," Dixon said. "Ever."


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Comments

Derrick Fogle December 18, 2011 | 10:05 p.m.

Sweet! Mizzou Basketball is rocking the house!

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