Missouri men's basketball hopes to return to winning ways against Bucknell

Friday, January 4, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CST
Missouri's Laurence Bowers, left, puts up a shot against UCLA's Travis Wear, right, and Shabazz Muhammad during the Tigers' 97-94 loss last Friday in Los Angeles.

Missouri men's basketball coach Frank Haith was visibly upset with the Tigers' 97-94 overtime loss Friday at UCLA.

Haith's jacket and tie were off and the collar of his shirt was unbuttoned during his brief interview with reporters in the tunnels of Pauley Pavilion after the game. He talked about what his team learned from the close loss.

"Somehow we have to get to the free-throw line, get to the bonus," Haith said. "We have to be a little more aggressive. ... We will learn from it (the loss). There is a lot of basketball left in the season."

Aggressiveness will be key against Bucknell on Saturday at a sold out Mizzou Arena. It will be the final nonconference game for No. 12-ranked Missouri.

Although Bucknell is unranked, the Bison are currently surging at 13-2, the program's best start.

The Bucknell team features a skilled big man who will challenge the Tigers, who are currently the top rebounding team in the nation.

Bucknell senior forward Mike Muscala is averaging 18.9 points and 10.7 rebounds per game so far this season.

Bucknell guard Bryson Johnson is averaging 11.7 points per game and is making 43 percent of his 3-pointers.

But if Missouri's offense stays rolling, it can get past Bucknell.

Tigers point guard Phil Pressey and forward Laurence Bowers will have to demonstrate the same offensive skills they showcased in Friday's game.

Pressey is coming off a 19-assist game against UCLA, breaking the school record of 13 set by Stefhon Hannah in 2006 and tying the Southeastern Conference record. Pressey's assists were also the most in a Division I game since 2008.  

Bowers has scored in double digits for seven consecutive games, the longest streak of his career. He is averaging 18.9 points on 57 percent shooting, which put him in contention for SEC player of the year.

The Bucknell game is the last chance for Missouri to make any adjustments before SEC play starts. Missouri will start conference play against Alabama on Jan. 8 at Mizzou Arena.

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