January 17, 2009

Denmon breaks out in Cyclone shellacking

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Down three points in the final seconds against Nebraska, Mike Anderson called on freshman Marcus Denmon to take the potential game-tying three-pointer. The shot clanged off the front iron and the Tigers lost 56-51. A couple of days later, a reporter asked Anderson if he was concerned Denmon's confidence was shaken.

But Denmon's play in two wins since has done more talking than any words Anderson could say. The freshman hit 5-of-8 shots in a 45-point win over Colorado, including 3-of-5 from three-point range. He followed that up with a team-high 16 points on 4-of-6 accuracy from long-range against Iowa State on Saturday.

"That's what Marcus is. He's a scorer," Anderson said. "Eventually, you're going to knock down some shots."

For a half on Saturday, it didn't appear Denmon-or anyone else, for that matter-was going to knock down many. The Tigers led Iowa State 29-20 at halftime. They had made only 10 of their 34 shots.

But in the second half, the Tigers turned it on. They made 10-of-14 three-pointers. They were 17-of-26 overall, scorching the nets at a 65.4% clip. Was it as simple as the shots just starting to go in?

"It seemed like it," DeMarre Carroll said. "I've got to give credit to our crowd. They kept us in it and made the atmosphere fun. We wanted to keep them here so we just went out there and tried to perform."

No Tiger performed better than Denmon. The Kansas City native hit three three-pointers on his way to a career-high 16 points. Denmon burst on the scene with a 36-point show in the Tigers' Black and Gold game. He scored 15 more in the opener against Prairie View A&M. But over the next 15 games, Denmon hit double figures only three times. Only once had he made more than a single three-pointer.

"I'm always pretty confident when I go out there," Denmon said. "Whether I make or miss."

Denmon's shooting took top billing, but he was just 3-of-8 at halftime. It was his other contributions that kept him on the floor for his second-half breakout.

"The thing I like about Marcus is he's in there mixing it up," Anderson said. "And, of course, he's playing defense."

Denmon had two offensive rebounds and just one assist. But the box score didn't completely reflect his effort on the court. The coach noticed the entire effort, the fans responded to the scoring outburst. For Denmon, there wasn't much difference.

"It was just a matter of shots falling," he said.

Exactly the attitude his coach wants to hear.

"Defense can be there every day," Anderson said. "Offense can come and go."

Missouri has to hope the offense goes on the road on Wednesday. The Tigers travel to Stillwater, Oklahoma in search of their third straight Big 12 win.

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