Missouri basketball passes test against Bucknell

Saturday, January 5, 2013 | 6:59 p.m. CST; updated 8:12 p.m. CST, Saturday, January 5, 2013
Missouri beat Bucknell 66-64 in men's basketball Saturday at Mizzou Arena.

COLUMBIA — As the clock started blinking down, Missouri's basketball game against Bucknell was starting to look like a copy of last week's close game against UCLA.

But unlike last week's game, Missouri got the job done down the stretch in a 66-64 victory over Bucknell in front of 13,856 people Saturday afternoon at Mizzou Arena.

The characteristics of the games looked similar.

Bucknell was just a possession away from tying in the last few minutes.

Missouri point guard Phil Pressey was having another career game, just like last week. This time it was scoring; Pressey made 26 points, leading the team and breaking his previous personal high of 23.

Even the plays looked similar.

Up 62-61, Bucknell tried to force a turnover with a press but Pressey broke it, finding a wide open Keion Bell running down court.

The scene was almost identical to the late-game layup Bell missed last week. Instead, Bell elevated for a dunk. Bell's only two points put Missouri up 64-61, shedding any criticism he received last week.

"We want Keion to play athletically," Missouri coach Frank Haith said. "We want him to be strong and go to the rim."

Haith kept calm as watched his team try to put Bucknell away. He had no need to be angry, his players were making plays when it mattered most.

He even smiled to himself as he put a piece of paper into his pocket, with his jacket still on late in the game.

"You can't get frustrated; you got to be patient," Haith said about playing Bucknell. "… You're not going to blow them out; it's not going to be that type of game; it's going to be a grinder. You just got to make plays."

With two straight tight games before Saturday, Haith was certain his team learned what worked and what didn't from the UCLA game. Haith focused on practicing situations in practice prior to going into the Bucknell game.

The recent trials have come right in time for Missouri to prepare its game for Southeastern Conference play. Alabama visits Missouri on Tuesday in the Tigers' first conference game of the season.

Supervising editor is Greg Bowers.

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