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Pressey, English lead No. 5 Missouri past Texas

Missouri Tigers forward Ricardo Ratliffe (10) blocks a shot by Texas guard Sheldon McClellan (1) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in the Big 12 Basketball Tournament Friday, March 9, 2012, in Kansas City, Mo. Missouri defeated Texas 81-67.

Missouri Tigers forward Ricardo Ratliffe (10) blocks a shot by Texas guard Sheldon McClellan (1) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in the Big 12 Basketball Tournament Friday, March 9, 2012, in Kansas City, Mo. Missouri defeated Texas 81-67. Photo by The Associated Press.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri fans grumbling about not getting to play Kansas in the Big 12 title game will get no sympathy from Kim English.

The Tigers' star guard will not hear of it. After scoring 23 points in a bruising 81-67 victory over Texas in the semifinals Friday night, he's just happy to be in the championship game against anybody as his school bids farewell to the Big 12.

"We would have played Texas Tech, Iowa State, Oklahoma State, Baylor, Texas, anybody," English said. "We just want to win the Big 12."

The second-seeded Tigers (29-4) will meet No. 12 Baylor, which upset No. 3 Kansas 81-72 in the earlier semifinal. The Bears (27-6), swept in two games against Missouri in the regular season, will be seeking the first championship by a Texas team in the tournament's 16-year history.

"We played Baylor my freshman year to win the Big 12 tournament," said English. "Our coaches didn't come here earlier (Friday) to scout Kansas. They came here to see what both teams did. We will prepare to beat Baylor tomorrow."

The Tigers, who are heading to the Southeastern Conference this year, got a career-high 23 points from Phil Pressey and led Texas almost the entire way. Ricardo Ratliffe had 18 points and 14 rebounds for the Tigers.

In the second half, English hobbled into the tunnel with a leg injury and Texas' J'Covan Brown, the Big 12's leading scorer, went to the bench after crashing into a cluster of photographers behind the basket. Neither stayed out of the game for long.

"I was coming off a cut on offensive action we were doing the whole game," said English. "He shot the gap and his knee hit my quad pretty hard. I just have to get treatment tonight. I'll be fine tomorrow. It's the championship."

English, a 6-foot-6 senior, was 9 for 9 from the floor when he hobbled off.

Brown, after scoring just five points in the first half, wound up with 21.

"I think I came down hit my head, you know," Brown said. "My neck got stiff on me. But I'll be all right."

Missouri, which is severing conference ties with some schools that go back more than 100 years, led almost the entire way while making it three in a row over the Longhorns (20-13).

Phil Pressey, whose previous career high was 22 points, hit his first three 3-point attempts to stake the Tigers to an early lead they never gave up.

"When Pressey's making those 3s, he's as tough as any guy to guard because he does such a terrific job off seeing the floor," said Texas coach Rick Barnes. "I think Missouri does as good a job as any team I've seen in a long time in terms of sharing the ball, and moving the ball. They get you spread out. They'll make the first pass and then they'll make the next one and the next one."

Marcus Denmon, Missouri's two-time All-Big 12 guard who had 24 points the night before against Oklahoma State, was 0 for 10 from the floor and scored only two points. His previous season low was six points, against Texas.

"That's a great example of a ballclub that's a team," said Missouri coach Frank Haith. "Marcus Denmon is our leading scorer, but we have a lot of good players on this team. Flip (Phil Pressey) had one of those nights and Kimmy (English) was outstanding. We've got other guys who can score."

After a 3-pointer by Pressey, Texas cut the lead to 67-57 on buckets by Brown and Clint Chapman. But Michael Dixon answered with back-to-back 3-pointers and the lead suddenly skied to 16 points with about 6½ minutes left.

Pressey had 18 points in the first half, combining with English to score 32 points and send the Tigers into intermission with a 39-32 lead. Pressey was 5 for 7 from behind the arc for the game.

Pressey's fourth 3-pointer at the 2:59 mark gave Missouri its biggest first-half lead at 39-26. But Myck Kabongo drilled an answering 3-pointer and Brown canned a free throw and a 12-footer as the Longhorns ended the half on a 6-0 run.

English, who had 27 points in Missouri's 88-70 quarterfinal win over Oklahoma State, was 6 for 6 from the floor in the first half after hitting his first eight shots the night before against Oklahoma State. He was 9 for 10 for the game and 3 of 4 behind the 3-point line.

After Jonathon Holmes scored inside for Texas, cutting the lead to 17-15, English led Missouri on a 9-1 run, driving in for a layup and popping in his second 3-pointer.

Read additional coverage from News Tribune reporter Brent Foster in our newspaper and e-Edition for Saturday, March 10, 2012.

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