No. 15 Missouri beats North Florida in basketball

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — During a timeout with about 8 minutes to go, Missouri coach Mike Anderson challenged his players to hold the opposition scoreless the rest of the way.

Maybe he should try that more often.

The 15th-ranked Tigers set an arena record by forcing 34 turnovers and finished with a 24-0 run in a 96-58 rout over North Florida on Saturday. The turnover count is believed to be a school record, and that all-court pressure fueled the shutout stand.

“I think we were so focused and in the zone that I don’t even think we noticed it,” forward Laurence Bowers said. “When he said that, it kind of got us fired up.”

Ricardo Ratliffe had 16 points and 10 rebounds and Bowers had 12 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks for the Tigers (2-0), who were much stronger two days after Western Illinois took them to the wire in their opener. Marcus Denmon had 18 points, hitting two 3-pointers.

Ratliffe was the junior college player of the year last season at Central Florida Community College, where his number has been retired, and appeared much more comfortable in his second game at Missouri.

“He looked like the player we think he’s capable of being,” Anderson said. “Our guys did a good job of getting the ball to him and he did a good job of finishing.”

Teammates said they’ve always seen this from Ratliffe in practice.

“The guy played like I’m used to guarding him,” Bowers said. “I kind of felt sorry for the other team.”

Ratliffe had six points and Denmon five in an 11-0 run that put Missouri up by 15 with just under 13 minutes to go in its 49th consecutive nonconference home victory, all but eight under Anderson.

Bowers, a 6-foot-8 junior, also had four blocks in the opener and moved into the school’s career top 10 with 69. He had his fourth career double-double.

Parker Smith had 17 points and Matt Sauey 14 for North Florida (1-3), which was held scoreless for the final 7:50. North Florida, playing its first six games on the road, had only eight turnovers Thursday in a victory at Wyoming, but appeared easily rattled by Missouri’s full-court pressure.

“It’s relentless, never-ending from every angle,” North Florida coach Matthew Driscoll said. “You can’t simulate it, you can’t do things in practice to make you think ‘Hey, this is what they’re going to do.’”

The previous turnover best at the 7-year-old Mizzou Arena was 29 against Chattanooga on Nov. 4, 2009.

“They finished us, so to speak,” Driscoll said. “They’re going to be really, really special in this league.”

Denmon’s 3-pointer with about 14 minutes left gave him 11 points, making him the first Missouri player in two games to reach double figures. The 66-61 victory over Western Illinois on Thursday was Missouri’s first without a doublefigure scorer since 1951.

Missouri led 16-2 after five minutes but seemed to coast a bit, and committed 11 turnovers in the first half for a 41-33 lead.

Andres Diaz, who averaged 16 points the first three games for North Florida, had only two points and was scoreless for nearly 30 minutes to start the game.

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