COLUMBIA — It started off like another typical slow and sluggish road performance for the Missouri men's basketball team, but this time it was more exciting at the end.
At the start of Wednesday night's 73-70 loss to LSU in Baton Rouge, La., LSU was making all its shots while Missouri was sloppy and missing. Missouri shot just 7 of 26 in the first half and had five turnovers.
Missouri coach Frank Haith was livid in Missouri's first timeout. Missouri headed to the locker room down 39-26, and the game was looking similar to the double-digit losses Missouri suffered at Ole Miss and Florida.
"We dug ourselves into a big hole again," Haith said. "Taking bad shots, our defense was not good, transition defense was not good."
Haith emerged for the second half jacketless and tieless, a common occurrence when Missouri is struggling.
Early in the second half, No. 17-ranked Missouri was down by as much as 16, but then Missouri's offense started to click and the team went on an 8-0 run to pull within 46-42.
Missouri had started playing defense, and it started to look different from the earlier road losses Missouri has experienced.
The Missouri offense started to look better. Point guard Phil Pressey finished with 25 points, and guard Jabari Brown had 19 points.
Senior forward Laurence Bowers, who played for the first time since spraining his right knee on Jan. 8, scored 10 points and grabbed six rebounds.
"I didn't want to play him 32 minutes, but it was nice to see him out there," Haith told the Mizzou Network postgame show.
Missouri's run was cut short when LSU guard Anthony Hickey made a single-handed 7-0 run to pull LSU ahead 55-45. But Missouri did not give up and made it a 61-58 game with 3:39 to go.
Then Pressey made a mistake that helped LSU pull away. As guard Andre Stringer pulled up for a 3-point shot, Pressey slapped Stringer's hand. The shot went in, and after Stringer made the free-throw, LSU was ahead 65-58.
A basket from forward Tony Criswell and a 3-pointer from Brown helped Missouri keep in the game, though. Still, a free throw by Hickey gave LSU a 66-63 lead with 49 seconds to go. Then after a missed 3-pointer by Pressey, Stringer grabbed the rebound and was fouled. Stringer hit his free throws to put LSU ahead 68-63 with 38 seconds left.
Earnest Ross then put Missouri back in the game with a 3-pointer. After that LSU forward Johnny O' Bryant broke past Missouri on the inbounds play for a basket. Then Pressey dashed down court for a quick layup making it 70-68 with 23 seconds left.
O'Bryant, who made only five of his nine previous free throws, was fouled on the ensuing possession. He made both his shots to put LSU ahead 72-68. Pressey again made a layup to make it 72-70.
After LSU's Shavon Coleman made one of two foul shots, Missouri missed their chance to tie when Pressey missed a pull up 3-pointer.
"That's the problem there, late game," Haith said. "We took some really bad shots, quick threes. We needed to continue driving the ball, and we needed the right guys taking threes."
Haith called his team's late-game shot selection "horrific."
Coleman gave Missouri one last chance to score when he missed another two foul shots, but Ross could not get a shot off at the buzzer from the halfcourt line.
The loss left Missouri winless on the road in Southeastern Conference play in three tries and dropped it to 15-5 overall and 4-3 in the conference. The team returns to Mizzou Arena, where it is 12-0 this season, for a Saturday afternoon game against Auburn.
The victory was the first for LSU (11-7, 2-5 SEC) against a ranked conference opponent since it beat eventual national champion Florida 66-56 six seasons ago.
— The Associated Press contributed to this report