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KS ST 40 38
MIZZ 30 38

Kansas St.-Missouri Preview

AP - Sports

Although a crucial Big 12 game looms this weekend, it's highly unlikely Missouri will turn its focus away from its next opponent.

That's because Kansas State dealt the third-ranked Tigers one of their two losses this season and will seek its second straight upset of a top-10 foe Tuesday night when it visits Mizzou Arena.

Missouri (25-2, 12-2) has a chance to claim sole possession of first place in the conference if it can beat archrival and co-leader Kansas on Saturday. The Tigers, though, will only get that opportunity if they can first top the Wildcats (18-8, 7-7).

"This team has been very professional in how we've handled each game," Missouri coach Frank Haith said. "This team understands this game is important. We understand how we have to play to have success Tuesday night."

Haith's team didn't have much success at then-No. 23 Kansas State on Jan. 7, when it shot a season-worst 32.7 percent and was outrebounded 39-25 en route to a 75-59 defeat - its eighth consecutive loss in Manhattan.

"It was an eye opener for us at that time of the year," Haith said. "They physically came just after us, and we didn't match their intensity. In order for us to have success (Tuesday), we have to match that intensity and quite honestly, exceed it."

The Tigers have won 24 of 26 at home against the Wildcats including four straight, winning last year's Kansas State visit 75-59. They also enter this contest riding a seven-game overall winning streak.

Kim English scored 21 points Saturday to help Missouri overcome a subpar game from forward Ricardo Ratliffe and defeat Texas A&M 71-62.

Ratliffe, who is averaging 13.7 points and is the nation's leader in field goal percentage (72.6), scored only four while missing three of his five shots.

He and the Tigers will try for a better shooting performance against the Wildcats, who ended a difficult stretch with a 57-56 win at then-No. 9 Baylor on Saturday.

Kansas State had dropped four of six before Angel Rodriguez and Rodney McGruder scored 15 points apiece to help upset the Bears. Rodriguez, a freshman, failed to score and committed a career-high seven turnovers during the Wildcats' previous game, a 59-53 home loss to No. 4 Kansas on Feb. 13.

"(Rodriguez has) continued to learn, continued to battle," coach Frank Martin said.

Before becoming part of the starting lineup, Rodriguez had three points and four assists off the bench in last month's win over Missouri, while McGruder scored a team-best 20 points.

Marcus Denmon, the Big 12's second-leading scorer (17.8 ppg), had a team-best 17 points for Missouri in the loss to the Wildcats despite shooting just 5 for 14. He enters this game averaging 20.2 points on 54.7 percent shooting overall - 20 for 40 from 3-point range - in February.

Reserve guard Michael Dixon, who scored points 16 against Kansas State last month, is averaging 15.8 on 65.5 percent shooting over his last six games overall.

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