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Missouri Hitting Its Stride On Way To Semifinal Against Texas

With two minutes left in the first half, walk-on forward Andrew Jones entered the game to get some serious playing time.

Yes, I said the first half.

That's all you really need to know about Missouri's dominating 88-70 win over Oklahoma State in the Big 12 Quarterfinals on Thursday night.

It was pure dominance for the Tigers from the opening tip, capitalizing on poor defense by the Cowboys to go on a 30-to-6 run at one point. Missouri led by as many as 29 points in the win and got two standout performances from their senior leaders.

Kim English led the Tigers' charge out of the gate with 21 first-half points. The senior from Baltimore finished with 27 points, two shy of his career high, on 11-of-13 shooting.

Marcus Denmon did what he usually does: score 20 of the quietest points you will ever see. The 6-3 senior guard shot 9-of-14 from the floor, scoring 24 points while pulling down 8 rebounds.

Basically, this game was what happens when Missouri is clicking on all cylinders. The Tigers looked as dangerous as can be in a tournament setting and look extremely focused on winning their last eight games of the year.

The Tigers face a quick turnaround as they are set to face the Texas Longhorns tonight. Texas looked impressive in disposing of Royce White and Iowa State on Thursday night, removing themselves (at least temporarily) from the bubble and into the field of 68.

The Longhorns weren't an easy out for Missouri this year, as both the Tigers needed a last-second shot to beat Texas in Austin last month. J'Covan Brown averages 20 points per game and should be a tough matchup for the Tigers defense, which has struggled a bit lately.

Still, if Missouri gets the kind of performance it had on Thursday night, there aren't many teams in the nation that could hang with them for 40 minutes.

The key for the Tigers for the rest of the Big 12 Tournament will be the play of Phil Pressey. In the game against Oklahoma State, Pressey was basically unstoppable, both distributing the basketball and taking it away. Pressey finished the game with 12 assists, one away from the school record for a game, and five steals, two away from the school record.

As a result, Missouri scored at a high rate and the Pokes never had a chance. When he is at the top of his game, there are probably only 3-5 other point guards in the nation that are in the same class as Phil Pressey. If he can play like that all the way through March and into April, the Tigers will be cutting down some nets.

Missouri and Texas face off tonight at 9 p.m. The winner moves on to the Big 12 championship game set for 5 p.m. on Saturday