NEW YORK - Marcus Denmon had 28 points, Phil Pressey doled out 12 assists and Ricardo Ratliffe racked up a double-double as No. 10 Mizzou remained undefeated with an 81-71 win over Villanova in the Jimmy V Classic on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden.
In their first game at the Garden since the 1988 Pre-season NIT and their first meeting with Villanova since 1985 the Tigers improved to 8-0 for the first time since the 2006-07 season. Villanova fell to 5-3.
Denmon had 15 of his points in the first half, including 10 in a 19-4 run that put MU ahead for keeps. Ratliffe had 17 points and 11 rebounds and was eight of eight from the field, leaving him 30 of his last 32.
Pressey's 12 assists were a career-high, giving him 29 in the last three games.
The Tigers were sagging midway through the first half after hitting just seven of their first 25 field-goal attempts and only one of their first eight 3-pointers against a team that largely seems to concede the 3 and entered the game ranked 197th in the nation in 3-point field goal percentage defense.
The futility peaked on one sequence of four misses in a matter of seconds, part of a streak of 10 straight Mizzou misfires.
But then Denmon started, extended and ended a 19-4 run, triggering it with a layup off an inbound pass, followed by his 3-pointer, his assist to Ratliffe and his assist for a Kim English 3.
He added two free throws along the way and punctuating the run with another 3 to make it 38-25.
For good measure, Denmon flipped in a rebound for a buzzer-beating layup to give the Tigers a 42-29 halftime lead, the seventh straight time they've had a double-digit cushion at the intermission since leading SEMO just 38-36 in the opener.
For the half, the Tigers outrebounded Villanova 24-17, including 11 offensively, forced nine turnovers and had 13 assists with just two turnovers themselves.
And they did it mostly without point guard Phil Pressey, who had five assists in the first six minutes of the game but was saddled to the bench for the last 12:24 of the half with two fouls.
The Tigers appeared ready to break it open early in the second half with a flurry of four straight made 3-pointers, the last by Michael Dixon, to make it 58-42.
But coinciding with English picked up his fourth foul, MU went cold and 'Nova soon commenced a 10-0 run capped by a Dominic Cheek 3 to cut a 16-point Tiger lead to 61-55 with 9:49 left.
Only 49 seconds later, the Tigers were ahead 10 again on basket by Ratliffe and a Pressey jam off a turnover.
They'd need that cushion down the stretch as the Wildcats hovered within two possessions into the final 5 minutes before Pressey found Ratliffe with his 10th assist of the night and a Denmon jumper made it 72-62 Tigers.
An English 3 gave MU a 12-point lead, but Villanova cut it to 75-68 on a Maalik Wayns jumper with 1:29 left.
The Tigers, though, hit three of four free throws to restore a 10-point lead with just under a minute left. The Tigers made 15 of 18 from the line on the night.