COLUMBIA — For Kim English, it's not about who takes the shot. It's about taking the shot that has the best chance of going in.
English led the No. 7 Missouri men's basketball team with 23 points and nine rebounds in Tuesday night's 87-49 victory over Oklahoma in a Big 12 Conference opener at Mizzou Arena. He said most of his success was a result of his teammates.
"It's our unselfish nature. That's where those shots come from," English said.
The 38-point margin was Missouri's largest victory over an Oklahoma team since 1922. Entering the game, Missouri (14-0) had the top scoring margin in the nation, winning games by an average of 24.3 points.
English said the Tigers' accomplishments go beyond practicing shooting.
"It is repetition, but you can't just go in the gym and shoot a lot and expect to make shots in the game," English said. "We feed off of each other. We try to give each other high percentage shots. That's why we've been blessed to have so much success as far as percentages go."
One of those selfless moments came late in the first half. Sophomore Phil Pressey passed behind his back to junior Michael Dixon who was standing in the far left corner behind the 3-point line. Dixon paused, looking like he was going to shoot, but passed back the ball back to Pressey who switched it to the other side of the court where English stood open.
It was one of the five 3-pointers English made against the Sooners (10-3).
Against William and Mary* and Illinois, the Tigers proved they could win without senior Marcus Denmon at his best. Denmon has averaged 18.7 points per game this season but scored only eight points in Missouri's win over Illinois and seven against William and Mary*.
Tuesday night, Denmon proved he was back, scoring 20 points with seven rebounds.
"Playing as a team is something that we come out and try to execute every day," Denmon said. "We do it in practice and take that into games."
Haith said Denmon and English are two of the best leaders he's been around, and they are where their team's chemistry begins. He called English and Denmon "great locker room guys," meaning they lead their team when the coaches aren't around.
He credited his team's success to a pure and unwavering work ethic.
"I've been in a lot of locker rooms in my 25 years, given a lot of pregame talks," Haith said. "I've never once had to tell these guys to play hard."
For Haith, the game was nearly perfect.
"I don't know that we could played any better than we played tonight," Haith said. "We played about as flawless a game as you can play."