The Missouri Tigers changed head coaches in the offseason, replacing Mike Anderson, who abruptly departed for the Arkansas Razorbacks, with Miami (Ohio) head coach Frank Haith after being spurned by Purdue Boilermakers head coach Matt Painter. Eliminated in the opening round of last year's NCAA Tournament by the Cincinnati Bearcats, the Tigers received one first-place vote in the Big 12 preseason coach's poll, ranking fourth behind the Kansas Jayhawks, Texas A&M Aggies and Baylor Bears.
That coaches' poll was conducted prior to the Tigers losing senior forward Lawrence Bowers for the season to a torn ACL. Bowers was the Tigers' leading rebounder and second-leading scorer during the 2010-11 season. His injury prompted Haith to install a four-guard lineup. Senior guard Marcus Denmon averaged a team-high 34.6 minutes per game and finished the regular season as the Tigers' leading scorer, averaging 18 points per game. Denmon was 91-of-217 (41.9 percent) from beyond the arc, 88.8 percent from the free-throw line and was named first-team All-Big 12. Fellow senior guard Kim English averaged 14.1 points per game and was 45.3 percent on 150 three-point attempts. Senior forward Ricardo Ratliffe is the Tigers' leading rebounder, averaging 7.5 boards per game in addition to his 13.8 points per game average. Sophomore point guard Phil Pressey averaged more than six assists per game, led the team with 65 steals and is a finalist for the Cousy Award, while Big 12 Sixth Man of the Year Michael Dixon averaged 13.3 points off the bench.
Missouri opened the season with 14 straight wins, a run snapped by a 75-59 loss at the Kansas St. Wildcats on Jan. 7. The Tigers rebounded from that setback to win 11 of their next 12 before losing once again to the Wildcats on their home floor on February 21. Following an 87-86 loss to the Kansas Jayhawks four days later, the Tigers won back-to-back games to close out their regular season schedule. They head into the NCAA Tournament as champions of the Big 12 after rolling to three victories in three days last week in Kansas City.
Missouri didn't earn a No. 1 seed, but did come away with a No. 2 seed. The Tigers will face No. 15 seed Norfolk State in the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament
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