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Dixon ignites Missouri men's basketball team in win against Texas A&M

Monday, January 16, 2012 | 9:20 p.m. CST; updated 12:34 a.m. CST, Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Missouri junior guard Michael Dixon made four 3-point baskets in the first half of the Tigers' victory Monday.

COLUMBIA — When Michael Dixon fouled out with 1:28 left in the Missouri men's basketball team's game against Texas A&M on Monday, a sellout crowd of 15,061 at Mizzou Arena jumped to its feet to give him a standing ovation.

Fans screamed and clapped in approval of Dixon's electrifying first-half performance that propelled Missouri to a 70-51 victory.

Angry Bears up next

No. 3 Baylor, Missouri's next opponent, fell victim to No. 7 Kansas in a 92-74 loss on Monday night at intimidating Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kan., ending the Bears' perfect start.

A trendy pick to end the Jayhawks' seven-year stranglehold on the conference, Baylor (17-1, 4-1 Big 12) had been riding its program's longest winning streak.

Thomas Robinson had 27 points and 14 rebounds and Tyshawn Taylor matched a career-high with 28 points for the Jayhawks (15-3, 5-0), who won their 16th straight game at Allen Fieldhouse.

Baylor's Perry Jones III scored 18 points, Quincy Miller had 17 and Quincy Acy added 14, but the long and lean Bears were dominated in the paint and had no answer for the combination of Robinson and Taylor, one of the best inside-outside tandems in the nation.

Missouri is set to face Baylor in a 1 p.m. game Saturday in Waco, Texas. The Tigers suffered their only loss of the season Jan. 7 at Kansas State three days after the Wildcats were defeated 67-49 by Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse.

 



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After a sluggish start, Missouri, ranked No. 5 in Monday's new Associated Press poll, trailed 17-14 with less than eight minutes left in the opening 20 minutes.

After Dixon missed his first 3-point attempt 13 minutes into the half, Texas A&M guard Elston Turner collected a defensive rebound and tried to pass to Dash Harris for an alley-oop. Harris fumbled the ball in the air before Missouri forward Ricardo Ratliffe collected the rebound. 

On the ensuing possession, Missouri guard Phil Pressey tossed the ball to Dixon to the left of the basket, and Dixon made his second attempt from 3-point range to tie the game at 17.

"I missed the first (3-point shot), but it kind of felt good, and I had been shooting good in warm-ups," Dixon said. "It was just a rhythm thing, and my teammates were able to find me and I just happened to be hitting them."

Dixon, who led the Tigers with 18 points, showed no signs of getting cold as Missouri produced a 28-6 run to end the first half. He made two more shots from beyond the arc before he made his most impressive shot of the night.

Tigers senior Marcus Denmon had the ball to the right of the basket and threw it across the court to Dixon. The pass went high and Dixon, who is just 6 feet, 1 inch tall, launched himself into the air to catch the ball before it went out of bounds. Once he came down to earth, he waited to see how the Texas A&M defense would respond.

"Once the defender closed out on me, he relaxed and put his feet in the ground," Dixon said. "So I just rose up above him and shot it."

It was Dixon's fourth 3-point basket in five minutes. He also made two layups, including one on a steal in which Dixon simply outran the Texas A&M defense to the basket.

Missouri coach Frank Haith hopes to see more impressive performances from Dixon, especially because Dixon can try to force plays and shots at times.

"I just told him to let the game come to him," Haith said. "That's the biggest thing we always try to tell Mike. We just tell him to get in the flow of the game, get some sweat going, and just let it come to you. At times, he is a jitterbug, and sometimes when he gets going, he's going to take some plays to make some plays."

Dixon's 18 points also overshadowed other aspects of Missouri's game that played huge parts in the victory.

The Tigers garnered 38 rebounds to Texas A&M's 26, an impressive stat because Missouri is such a small team.

"It's a point of emphasis every night because we're small," Haith said. "In order for us to have the kind of year and kind of team we want to have, we have to do that every single night.. Defensive rebounding has got to be a key to our success."

Missouri also scored 27 points from the free-throw line, including three points from Marcus Denmon, who was fouled while attempting a 3-point shot about a minute left in the first half. Denmon finished with 16 points and nine rebounds. Ratliffe contributed 17 points and six rebounds in the win.

Missouri improved to 17-1 overall and 4-1 in Big 12 Conference play. The Tigers go four days without a game before a date with No. 3 Baylor on Saturday in Waco, Texas.


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