Missouri seemed like it might be in for some rough times when starting point guard Michael Dixon was suspended indefinitely and his backup, highly touted freshman Phil Pressey, was injured in practice last month.
Instead, the Tigers have thrived with Matt Pressey filling in admirably for his younger brother while Dixon has provided some strong performances off the bench.
The two guards will try to help ninth-ranked Missouri to another easy win in its non-conference finale Wednesday night against visiting North Alabama.
Coach Mike Anderson suspended Dixon on Dec. 15 for an unspecified violation of team rules and elevated Phil Pressey into the starting lineup. However, he played just two games after that promotion before a broken right ring finger put him on the sidelines.
Junior Matt Pressey has started the past three games in his brother’s place and has been particularly good in the last two, averaging 16.5 points on 12-of-18 shooting. He averaged 5.9 points and shot 41.1 percent through his first 11 games with the Tigers (13-1).
Dixon, meanwhile, has averaged 12.0 points and 6.0 assists since coming back from his two-game suspension. He scored a career-high 18 in Thursday night’s 81-58 home victory over Old Dominion.
“I think the thing that took place with him probably humbles him a little bit,” Anderson said. “He’s a winner and he wants to help this team win, so it was good to see him come out and do a lot of good things defensively as well as offensively.”
Dixon had two more steals Thursday and is the Big 12 leader with 2.4 per game.
Leading scorer Marcus Denmon hit five 3-pointers for the second straight game en route to a team-best 22 points, and Matt Pressey added 15 in Missouri’s eighth consecutive victory. Each of the last four against unranked foes has been by at least 19 points.
The Tigers should expect another lopsided victory Wednesday against the Division II Lions (6-8) to extend their 56-game non-conference win streak at home.
Before traveling to Colorado on Saturday to start Big 12 play, Missouri tries to match its longest win streak under Anderson - a nine-game run last season - and equal a school record for non-conference victories. The Tigers had 14 wins in non-Big Eight games in 1988-89 and 1989-90.
North Alabama, meanwhile, is searching for a more modest season-high third straight win after beating Southern Arkansas 81-64 on Monday night.
Senior guard Ricky Davison scored 27 points and is averaging a team-best 14.4. Kansas City native Beaumont Beasley is second on the Lions with 12.4 per game.
Missouri, which will face North Alabama for the first time, is hosting its first Division II opponent since beating Northwest Missouri State 77-56 on Dec. 17, 1996.