The Missouri basketball team enters Thursday's game against Oral Roberts with an 8-1 record and a No. 13 national ranking. But the past week has been anything but pleasant for the Tigers.
Coach Mike Anderson announced Wednesday that starting guard Michael Dixon has been suspended indefinitely for violating a team rule. Along with averaging 10.7 points, Dixon leads the team in assists (4.3) and steals (2.4).
"We have high standards for how we expect our young men to carry themselves," Anderson said in a release. "Michael did not meet those stands. Therefore, he is suspended indefinitely."
Freshman Phil Pressey, who is averaging 4.3 assists over his last three games, will attempt to fill the void left by Dixon.
Disheartening as it may be, Dixon's situation is nothing compared to the one surrounding leading scorer Marcus Denmon, who is averaging 16.4 points.
Denmon's 20-year-old cousin, Marion, died four days after reportedly being caught in the crossfire as occupants of two vehicles shot at each other Dec. 3 in Kansas City.
Members of Missouri's staff joined Denmon at Marion's funeral on Wednesday. According to The Kansas City Star, moments after the minister had finished preaching, occupants from two vehicles that had been circling outside began firing shots toward the church.
Police said approximately 400 mourners inside dove for cover and hid behind pews. Others outside the church brandished weapons, returned fire and then chased the gunmen for nearly two-and-a-half blocks before exchanging fire again near an elementary school.
No one at the church was shot, although a woman slipped on some ice amid the chaos and broke her arm. Thirty minutes after the incident, the silver casket carrying Marion Denmon was removed from the church and placed in a hearse. Police escorted the procession to a cemetery, where officers remained present during the interment.
Denmon, who helped beat Vanderbilt last week with a steal and game-winning layup, returned to Columbia on Wednesday night along with Missouri's coaching staff, according to Tigers spokesman Dave Reiter.
1. Kansas (9-0) – Tyshawn Taylor and Josh Selby should form the league's fastest backcourt. (1)
2. Kansas State (9-1) – The Wildcats aren't close to reaching their ceiling. (2)
3. Baylor (7-0) – The Bears' biggest weapon is their length. (3)
4. Missouri (8-1) – The Tigers battle Illinois on Tuesday in St. Louis. (4)
8. Colorado (5-3) – The Buffaloes haven't won a non-conference road game since 2006. (8)
9. Iowa State (9-2) – Melvin Ejim is one of the country's most underrated freshmen. (10)
10. Nebraska (8-2) – The Cornhuskers have won six straight and play their next five games at home. (9)
11. Texas Tech (5-5) – Leading scorer John Roberson is shooting just 33 percent from the field. (11)
Saturday's lineup – The three games discussed below aren't the only good Big 12 matchups this weekend. Baylor will face its toughest opponent to date when it takes on Gonzaga at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. Oklahoma will attempt to hand Cincinnati its first loss. Texas A&M will try to continue its hot streak against Arkansas. Texas Tech coach Pat Knight is facing a must-win against Texas-El Paso, and Oklahoma State will host an Alabama squad that has JaMychal Green back from suspension.
Scott Christopherson, Iowa State – The Marquette transfer scored 30 points in last week's victory at Iowa and is now averaging a team-high 16.5 points. Even more impressive is that Christopherson is shooting 54.9 percent (39-of-71) from 3-point range. He had seven 3-pointers against Iowa, marking the second time this season he's made seven 3s in a single game.
Mark Turgeon, Texas A&M – Turgeon's approval rating should be sky-high in College Station following the Aggies' 9-1 start. Saturday's 63-62 victory over then-No. 21 Washington marked the 70th straight regular-season win against a non-conference opponent at home. Look for Texas A&M to be 15-1 when it plays host to Missouri on Jan. 15.
Wally Judge, Kansas State – Wildcats coach Frank Martin announced Sunday that Judge, a sophomore, is out indefinitely because of personal issues. The only McDonald's All-American on Kansas State's roster, the 6-foot-9, 248-pound Judge has yet to produce the numbers expected of him when he arrived in Manhattan. Judge has seen action in seven games this season but is averaging just 4.3 points and 2.4 rebounds in 14.6 minutes of action. He could really help Kansas State if he ever figures things out.
Texas Tech's defense – Pat Knight said his No. 1 goal entering the season was to improve the Red Raiders' defense. But after 10 games Texas Tech is actually performing worse in that area than it did in 2009-10. Texas Tech is allowing 79 points per contest. Last year that number was 76.1. No wonder the Red Raiders are 5-5 with losses to schools such as TCU, South Florida and North Texas.
Expectations in Lawrence – Excited as they are to see him play, Kansas fans need to be patient with Josh Selby, who may take a few weeks – or maybe even a month – to get comfortable on the court and adjust to the college level. The buzz surrounding Selby's debut prompted Jayhawks coach Bill Self to opine that Saturday's matchup with USC may be "as anticipated of a home game as we've had in years at Allen Fieldhouse." True as that may be, it's not fair to Selby.
Forward Marshall Moses set an Oklahoma State record by going 12-for-12 from the field in a Dec. 8 victory over Tulsa. Moses' final basket came on an ill-advised 3-pointer near the end of the game. "I just did that to show (coach) Travis Ford I could make it," Moses said after the game … Oklahoma State outscored Missouri State's bench 43-7 on Saturday … Texas A&M on Saturday paid tribute to Tobi Oyedeji, the prized recruit who was killed in a May car accident. Oyedeji's parents attended the game and watched the Aggies beat Washington … Colorado has done a good job of taking care of the basketball. The Buffaloes have four single-digit-turnover games … Oklahoma beat Oral Roberts for the 10th straight time on Sunday … Sooners forward Andrew Fitzgerald has shot 50 percent or better in eight of his team's first 10 games … Texas forward Tristan Thompson is averaging 10 rebounds over his last five games … Nebraska forward Christian Standhardinger remains suspended indefinitely because of academic problems. The Cornhuskers' most versatile player, Standhardinger averaged 9.5 points in Nebraska's first six games.
THREE TO WATCH
USC at Kansas, Saturday – Josh Selby – the No. 1-ranked recruit in the Class of 2010 by Rivals.com – makes his debut for the Jayhawks.
Texas vs. North Carolina in Greensboro, Saturday – Rick Barnes' squad will be facing a North Carolina team that's beginning to put things together.