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Denmon’s 27 points lift Missouri past Nebraska

Missouri's Kim English shakes hands with fans as the final seconds of the clock tick off against Nebraska on Wednesday.

Missouri's Kim English shakes hands with fans as the final seconds of the clock tick off against Nebraska on Wednesday. Photo by The Associated Press.

COLUMBIA (AP) — Marcus Denmon was the player Nebraska aimed to stop. Not much luck there.

The junior guard made five 3-pointers and matched his career best with 27 points, helping No. 15 Missouri end the Cornhuskers’ 11-game winning streak with a 77-69 victory Wednesday night.

“A guy shooting 50 percent from the 3-point line and we’re defending him like you know, we want you to shoot it,” Nebraska coach Doc Sadler said. “He was a no-catch guy and he caught it, and he made us pay.”

Ricardo Ratliffe added 12 points, seven rebounds and four blocks for the Tigers (15-2, 1-1 Big 12), who bounced back from a 13-point loss at Colorado that knocked them out of the Top 10. They succeeded playing at Nebraska’s half-court style for the most part, and became the second team to top 70 points against the Cornhuskers with an inside-outside game keyed by Denmon’s sharpshooting.

“They can’t focus on double-teaming the post because they’ve got to have somebody out there guarding our shooters,” Ratliffe said. “With them lighting it up, it makes it a lot easier for us to get a shot inside.”

Denmon is shooting 51 percent from 3-point range and averaging a team-leading 18 points. He also scored 27 points Nov. 30 in an overtime loss to Georgetown in Kansas City.

“He’s not making them against the line, either,” Sadler said. “He’s making them out there at 23 feet. He’s probably playing as good as any guard in the league, at least scoring.”

Toney McCray had 17 points and hit a pair of 3-pointers for Nebraska (13-3, 1-1), which held its first 10 opponents during the winning streak under 60 points, then beat Iowa State 63-62 in the conference opener. This was the school’s first road game.

“You ain’t going to beat anyone in this league letting the ball in the lane 47 times,” Sadler said. “We’re lucky to be as close as we were.”

Both teams had identical shooting figures, going 25-for-59 for 42 percent, and both teams made six 3-pointers. Missouri won at the free throw line, going 21-for-30 to Nebraska’s 13-for-16.

The Huskers cut their deficit to three early in the half and had it back down to five with about five minutes to go before Missouri answered with three quick baskets. Nebraska entered the game fifth in the nation allowing 53.5 points per game.

“We didn’t do what we were supposed to do,” guard Lance Jeter said. “Our transition definitely hurt us and we definitely need to improve.”

Denmon scored 11 of the first 13 points for Missouri, totaling 14 in the half. He was scoreless for more than 131⁄2 minutes before picking it up again, and his dunk off a Nebraska turnover put the Tigers up by 11 with just under four minutes to go.

“Sometimes that’s what our defense does,” Denmon said. “It just beats people up and they can kind of get out of control. That was just one of the easy ones.”

Michael Dixon had eight points in his first start since Dec. 11 and guard Phil Pressey got his first extended action since breaking his right ring finger in mid-December, with four assists, two steals and two points in 21 minutes. Laurence Bowers did not start for the first time all season, but had 12 points, seven rebounds and two blocks in 24 minutes.

“When we have practice, it’s basically the same thing — you mix up the lineups,” Ratliffe said. “Different guys will start and we all have the same chemistry.”

Missouri has beaten Nebraska four straight times in the regular season, although the Huskers won in the conference tournament last spring. The Tigers have won four straight conference openers and have not lost consecutive conference games under coach Mike Anderson.

Nebraska was 6-for-9 to start the second half, all but one of the baskets on drives, to whittle the deficit to 44-41. Missouri answered with nine straight points.

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