COLUMBIA –Sometimes, it isn’t all about scoring.
Senior guard Marcus Denmon averages 17.9 points per game for the Missouri men’s basketball team, but when the Tigers faced Iowa State on Wednesday, Denmon, scored only six points.
Texas (12-4, 2-1 Big 12)
at No. 9 Missouri (15-1, 2-1 Big 12)
WHEN: 12 noon
WHERE: Mizzou Arena
RADIO: KTGR/1580 AM, 100.5 FM, KCMQ/96.7 FM
Still, Denmon was able to contribute in a big way, leading the team with seven assists and adding four rebounds.
Since he had an Iowa State player guarding him closely throughout the game, it left Missouri’s other shooters open, and six Tigers scored in the double-digits.
“They way they guarded me hurt them but helped us,” Denmon said.
“We just need Marcus just to be himself,” Missouri head coach Frank Haith said. “I don’t want him to feel any pressure that he has to get 25 points for us to win.”
For Denmon, being a leader, especially on the defensive end of the floor, is what Haith expects from him.
“Playing great defense, rebounding, getting a loose ball, that gets you involved in the game,” Haith said.
Focusing strictly on scoring, negatively affects Missouri’s play, Haith said. He wants his team to focus on playing defense first.
“Sometimes, you’ll see teams across the country, they’ll play great defense when they score a bucket. You really want your team to be the other way, which is playing great defense. Don’t let our offense dictate how we play our defense,” Haith said.
Haith has spoken with his players about working harder to get open, setting up, coming off screens, creating opportunities off the dribble and getting fouls.
“People are going to try to take you out, and you’re not going to score,” Haith said. “But the most important thing is winning. So if we focus on what we can do every single night, and do that very well, we give ourselves the best chance to win.”
Although he’s made his mark scoring, ranking second in the Big 12 in points per game, Denmon knows there are also other ways to make contributions for his team.
“There’s other ways to impact the game when you’re an all-around player instead of just scoring,” Denmon said. “It’s things that we’ve worked on and get better at as play goes on.”