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Columbia Missourian

Missouri men's basketball throws away chance at first SEC road win

By Brendan Meyer
February 7, 2013 | 10:28 p.m. CST
After fighting back and taking the lead in the final minute, crucial mistakes cost the Missouri men's basketball team in a 70-68 loss to Texas A&M on Thursday in College Station, Texas.

Phil Pressey paused, his hands on his knees.

He was trying to pass it to an open Keion Bell, trying to help his team hold on to its first lead on the road in the Southeastern Conference, trying to lead Missouri to a win Thursday night over Texas A&M. 

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He wasn’t trying to throw it out of bounds.

Coach Frank Haith thought it was tipped, screaming at the officials. It wasn’t.

The ball flew way over Bell in to the second row of the crowd, the seventh turnover by Pressey in the game.

Seconds later, it was the same old story for the Tigers. With a 68-67 lead and 24 seconds left in the game, the Aggies Fabyon Harris swished an open 3-point shot, his game-high 17th point. With Missouri down 68-70 and 11.1 seconds left in the game, Pressey forced a three and missed it. 

Game over. 

So, again, the Tigers struggled on defense. Again, they couldn’t find a consistent rhythm on offense. Again, Missouri (16-6, 5-4 in SEC) lost on the road.

But the Tigers shot 45.7 percent in the game? They outrebounded Texas A&M 27-19? Made 22 of 24 free-throw attempts? 

They also had 16 turnovers, couldn’t guard the midrange jump shot, and, most importantly, couldn’t hold on to a very rare road lead.

"We just haven't been able to do it," Haith told the Associated Press following the game. "We've got to get better at that. It's something we've got to get accomplished, but we've got a couple more road games and we've got to finish off some road games."

Despite struggling on the road this season, forward Alex Oriakhi played well for Missouri. He paired 15 points with eight rebounds, adding three blocks. Senior Laurence Bowers, the team’s leading scorer, only attempted four shots in the game and finished with seven. He scored the huge 3-pointer that put Missouri up by one point with less than a minute remaining, but it was his only basket in the second half.

Pressey had 13 points and four assists, but continued to contribute both good and bad plays for the Tigers down the stretch.

Jabari Brown added 11 and Bell 12, but it just wasn’t enough.

Texas A&M shot 50 percent in the game, even leading the Tigers by as many as 14 points early in the second half.

"The home team seemed like they were a little bit more of the aggressor at the beginning of the game," Bell told the Associated Press. "We let them get off to an early lead and we had to fight our way back. We did a good job of getting back into the game, we just didn't finish it."

So what now for No. 21-ranked Missouri? Is this really how the season is going to go, win at home, lose on the road? The Tigers have four more home games this season, and five more away. That doesn’t include the neutral site of the SEC tournament in Nashville, or a now uncertain NCAA tournament birth.

The Tigers will have an opportunity to redeem themselves at noon Saturday against Ole Miss. The Rebels, who upset Missouri last month 64-49, are 18-4 this season. 

Good thing it's a home game.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.