Missouri men's basketball defeats Old Dominion

Friday, December 30, 2011 | 10:24 p.m. CST; updated 5:06 p.m. CST, Sunday, January 1, 2012

A thousand miles away from Mizzou Arena, there was a touch of home court advantage.

For senior Ricardo Ratliffe, it was a homecoming game. 

The Missouri men's basketball team defeated Old Dominion 75-68 on Friday night in Norfolk, Va., just 20 miles from his hometown and high school in Hampton, Va.

It was a family affair at the sold-out game. In the stands were his mother and brother, his cousins, nieces, nephews and aunt. On the court was his cousin.

Early in the second half, Ratliffe stepped to the free-throw line after his cousin, redshirt freshman Dimitri Batten, committed a shooting foul against him.

Also playing for the Monarchs were two of Ratliffe's former AAU teammates, redshirt junior Nick Wright and sophomore Donte Hill.

"When I'm home I play with the two of them to make sure I'm keeping up with good players," Ratliffe said by phone. 

For Ratliffe's mother, Kismyt, it was only the fifth time she has seen her son playing live as a Tiger. She couldn't attend many more than that when Ratliffe was in high school because of osteoarthritis, a joint disorder that made sitting in the basketball stands painful.

"My mother is in the stands, and I just want to play better," Ratliffe said. "It's strictly a confidence booster."

At the game's end the teams shook hands, but Ratliffe went for hugs instead. And after that he had more hugging to do. He said he hugged about 20 people in the 10 minutes he had to visit before the team bus left.

With 14 points with 11 rebounds, it was a double double-digit night for Ratliffe, who was one of four Tigers scoring in double digits. Senior Marcus Denmon led Missouri with 19 points, and senior Kim English and sophomore Phil Pressey each scored 14.

Ratliffe said English also had a number of family and friends in the stands. The Tigers were playing only four hours from his hometown, Baltimore, Md.

No. 8-ranked Missouri played its final nonconference game against an unranked team. Ratliffe thinks Old Dominion is underrated. 

"They took us to the wire, and people think we're a pretty good team," Ratliffe said. 

Missouri finished the first half behind 35-33. It was the first time this season the team trailed at halftime. At nine different times, the game was tied. 

With just over a minute left, the Tigers and Monarchs were tied 67-67. Denmon received a pass in the right corner from sophomore Phil Pressey, shot and made a 3-pointer.

When asked about the hasty play, coach Frank Haith smiled.

"What do you want me to say," he said. "He made it. We'll take that shot most nights."

Denmon went on to score five points in the final minute of  the game. 

The Tigers begin Big 12 Conference play against Oklahoma (9-2) at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Mizzou Arena. 

"We're really happy with 13 wins heading into conference play, but we understand that none of those wins matter," Denmon said.

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