On Sunday, the Missouri Tigers feasted.
On the opening weekend of Thanksgiving Break, the generous atmosphere of the holiday infused Mizzou Arena a little early. Every Tiger scored en route to their 100-44 victory over Texas Pan American. Kim English led all scorers with 25, including 5-6 from three point land.
Sure, the 56 point margin of victory fosters positive thoughts heading into the 2009 South Padre Invitational. But it was the way the Tigers won on Sunday that should have Columbia buzzing.
The Tigers forced the Bronchos into 10 first-half turnovers as MU allowed just 13 points in the opening half, the fewest in the history of Mizzou Arena. After each steal or block, Missouri guards began a track meet that ended in open transition threes or highlight-reel dunks.
A staple of this season's squad as well as any Mike Anderson team, the high-tempo attack, helped the Tigers enter halftime on a 46-5 run. Although it was against not the toughest of competition, the efficiency displayed by the Tigers gives many in Columbia something to get excited about.
"I thought the defense started it all. It triggered everything, it got everything into a rhythm, and of course now you're making shots, rebounding the basketball, defending, and it kind of all came together," said Coach Mike Anderson.
The up-and-down displayed on Sunday was nothing new to the 5,796 in attendance. However, the personnel on the floor was. Without All-World defender JT Tiller, Coach Anderson elected to start freshman Michael Dixon. And the Kansas City native did not disappoint.
Aside from pouring in nine points, Dixon turned the ball over only once while dishing out seven assists, one of which was a ally-oop to Keith Ramsey that brought an ovation from the crowd that sounded much larger than under 6,000.
Along with high points totals, Anderson's style of offense comes with high risk. The up-tempo transition encourages turnovers. A very encouraging sight was seeing Dixon run the Tigers break with the precision of a surgeon. Also, the persistence displayed by the Tigers on Sunday should have fans dreaming of a second consecutive Big XII championship.
After allowing only 13 first-half points, the Tigers kept their foot on the pedal by allowing only 10 second half field goals. Complacency was on no one's mind. Rather, dominance was the main dish. The tough post defense of Keith Ramsey, Laurence Bowers, and Steve Moore combined for six blocks. Numerous dunks inspired a no-prisoners attitude throughout Mizzou Arena.
The opponent may have been Texas Pan-Am, but on Sunday the Tigers treated it as business as usual.