COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) -- Marcus Denmon may start most games on the bench, but hard work and a healthy knee have made him a premiere sixth man.
Missouri's sophomore guard is second on the team with 11.3 points per game. He's one of the Big 12's premiere long-range threats, ranking second in 3-point accuracy at 45.4 percent, trailing only Oklahoma freshman Tommy Mason-Griffin and ahead of nationally heralded gunners like Kansas State's Jacob Pullen and Kansas' Sherron Collins.
"I've always considered him a starter and even last year he was our sixth man coming off the bench," coach Mike Anderson said. "I thought he put some time in to make his game better and now he's having the opportunity to display it."
Denmon found out after last season that he had been playing with a fractured left kneecap. He shot just 30.4 percent from beyond the arc and averaged six points, though his 60-footer at the first-half buzzer helped Missouri beat Memphis in last year's Sweet 16.
"I couldn't move well," Denmon said. "I wasn't able to attack and be as aggressive and do a lot of things both offensively and defensively."
Offseason surgery has helped Denmon emerge. He had a career-best 22 points in an 84-66 win over Colorado on Saturday and has reached double figures in scoring in eight of the last 12 games. He hopes to remain hot when the Tigers (17-6, 5-3) host Iowa State (13-10, 2-6) on Wednesday.
Teammates have noticed the bounce in the Kansas City native's step.
"I think I saw him do a windmill the other day," senior guard Zaire Taylor said. "I haven't seen him do that since his recruiting visit."
Anderson believes a year of seasoning in the Missouri program has made a world of difference for Denmon.
"I think it's just a maturation process," Anderson said. "Part of it is him understanding what his role is within our basketball team."
Part of that was more development of his smooth shooting stroke.
"It should just be natural. It should be something you do from just going out there and playing every day," Denmon said. "I took thousands and thousands of shots so I really don't think about it. The thinking is about how to get the shot and get open."
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)