The final numbers were almost astounding. The Missouri Tigers men’s basketball team beat the Oklahoma Sooners with a final score that showed two programs heading in different directions in an 87 to 49 win. But those numbers weren’t the astounding ones — it was the rebounding differential that was 38 to 23 in favor of Missouri that makes a Tigers fan shake their heads wondering how the guard heavy roster lacking in size can outrebound a much bigger opponent.
On the season, the Tigers are outrebounding their opponents by a 35 to 31 margin, creating a +4 differential through 14 games this year. Obviously, with a lighter schedule than most Big 12 top tier teams, the Tigers have yet to face the rigorous conference foes who might change that scale. However, it’s hard to ignore just how well the Tigers are rebounding at this point in the season, even after the loss of forward Laurence Bowers.
“More than any other single factor, rebounding looms as a real make or break area for the Tigers I think,” writes Aaron Schafer. "Mizzou has brilliant guard play, they shoot the lights out of the building most nights, and they play defense nearly as tight as the Mike Anderson “40 Minutes of Hell” teams. Rebounding, though, doesn’t come as easily to this team as most other aspects of the game. It’s a smallish team, and they get outplayed under the rim most nights."
Ricardo Ratliffe leads the team with 7.3 boards/game, but Kim English and Marcus Denmon are both right around 5 rebounds per game apiece. Even Matt Pressey adds 4.5, making it team effort overall to continue to dominate the glass. If the Tigers are going to continue their incredible 2011-12 season, rebounding could remain the key down the stretch.
Kim English led the Tigers with 23 points and eight rebounds including five three-point baskets. Marcus Denmon added 20 points, eight rebounds and three assists. Ricardo Ratliffe and Michael Dixon each scored 13 points in the win for Missouri.
Prior to the game, this matchup was billed as one between two of the Big 12's top scorers in Missouri's Denmon and Oklahoma's Steven Pledger who struggled against the Tigers defense. Pledger finished with just 11 points on 3-10 shooting. Andrew Fitzgerald led Oklahoma with 18 points and six rebounds.
Missouri started fast and finished the first half with a big 43-25 lead at halftime of their Big 12 conference opener against Oklahoma. Missouri was red hot offensively in the irst half shooting just under 61 percent from the field and hitting seven three-point buckets in the first half.
Marcus Denmon and Kim English took care of business offensively for the Tigers. Denmon leads the Tigers with 12 points and English is right behind with 11 points. Michael Dixon added nine points off the bench in the first half.
Andrew Fitzgerald has done all he can do to keep the Sooners in the game scoring 12 points and grabbing four rebounds in the first half. Leading scorer Steven Pledger has been held to just three points in the first half on 1-7 shooting. Oklahoma connected on just 34 percent of their shots in the first half.