Sell-out crowd ignites Missouri basketball to milestone victory against Baylor

Saturday, February 11, 2012 | 5:24 p.m. CST; updated 6:24 p.m. CST, Saturday, February 11, 2012
Missouri center Steve Moore attempts to block Quincy Acy as he drives the ball for a layup during the game at Mizzou Arena on Saturday. Missouri jumped ahead of the Baylor Bears in the first half with a six-point lead, increasing that distance by 15 points by the end of the second half to defeat the Bears 72-57.

COLUMBIA — Since Big 12 play started in January, Missouri PA announcer Aric Brewer has introduced the Missouri student section as a member of the Tigers' starting line-up.

When he introduces them, he calls them the "sixth man."

Missouri coach Frank Haith and several players have praised the fans for their support, especially after the 74-71 win on Feb. 4 against Kansas when they were so loud that television viewers of the game could barely hear a whistle being blown.

"They won the game for us," senior forward Steve Moore said.

Haith agreed, saying he didn't think Missouri could have won without the fans' energy.

Turns out the Missouri fans don't just bring that noise and energy for their biggest rival.

In Saturday's 72-57 win against No. 6 Baylor, another sell-out crowd turned up at Mizzou Arena to cheer on the Tigers. This time it was so loud that Baylor assistant coach Grant McCasland was holding up a whiteboard with the offensive play call rather than trying to yell loud enough for all of his players to hear.

"We were just trying to make sure we emphasized getting the ball where we wanted it to be," Baylor coach Scott Drew said.

Many times during the game, the ball was not where the Bears wanted it to be. The Bears had trouble getting the ball to their forwards and came up empty on several possessions.

"The crowd does ignite us, we can't deny that, especially on defense," junior guard Michael Dixon said. "We're gonna play defense no matter what, but you can say that the crowd ignites us."

Missouri didn't struggle much on offense, especially during a five minute stretch in the second half when the Tigers went on 17-5 run. Four different players hit three-pointers during that run, and Moore had an explosive dunk on a pass from Marcus Denmon that sent the crowd into its loudest frenzy of the day, complete with chants of "STEEEVE."

"When Missouri is on, there is nobody in the country as good as them offensively," Drew said. "Period."

Phil Pressey led the Tigers with 19 points. Dixon and Denmon each had 16 points and 6 assists.

It was a milestone day for Denmon, who passed Jon Sundvold for 10th place on the Missouri career scoring list.

Saturday's win also marks the 100th win for Denmon and fellow four-year seniors Moore and Kim English. That mark ties them with Sundvold's 1983 senior class for the most wins in a four-year span at Missouri.

Missouri (23-2, 10-2) now has three wins this season against teams ranked in the top 10. It remains tied with Kansas for first place in the Big 12 and is 23-2 for the first time since the 1989-90 season.

"I think we've gotten a lot better since the beginning of the year, there's no question about that," Haith said. "I still think there's another level this team can get to, I really do."

Missouri's next game is against Oklahoma State at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Mizzou Arena.


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