Pressey struggling in late-game situations for Missouri men's basketball team

Tuesday, February 19, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CST
Missouri guard Phil Pressey struggles to maintain control of the ball during the Tigers' 98-79 win over Ole Miss on Feb. 9.

COLUMBIA — In the final minutes of close games, Missouri point guard Phil Pressey doesn't look like the Bob Cousy Award candidate that he is — especially when the Tigers play on the road.

With Missouri trailing 72-71 with 11 seconds left in Saturday's game at Arkansas, Pressey accelerated off a handoff pass after inbounding the ball, only to run right into Arkansas guard Coty Clarke, losing the ball in the process. Missouri lost the game 73-71.

"That was a tough play," Missouri coach Frank Haith said Monday afternoon.

Pressey only had two assists against Arkansas and his former coach Mike Anderson. Pressey's averages 6.8 assists per game.

"I don't know if that was all Phil, but give Arkansas some credit, they're hard heads in being aggressive. We just have to continue to work with him (Pressey). He's our guy, love him, and we're going to continue to help him through it."

Late-game mistakes from Pressey led to the 70-68 loss Feb. 7 at Texas A&M.

With the Tigers ahead 68-67 and 24 seconds left to play, Pressey turned over the ball, sending it out of bounds up with a errant pass. Aggies guard Fabyon Harris shot a 3-pointer on the next possession putting the Aggies up  70-68 with 11 seconds to go. Pressey had a chance to win the game but missed a 3-pointer with two seconds left.

Pressey had seven turnovers that game.

Pressey's errors also showed up late in the 73-70 loss to LSU on Jan. 30. He fouled LSU guard Andre Stringer for a four-point play with 38 seconds to go, putting LSU up 65-58. Missouri rallied back to within 72-70, but Pressey missed the most important shot of the game, his 3-point attempt missing the mark with seven seconds to go.

Haith says sometimes Pressey is making the right decisions but fails to execute properly. Other times, Pressey is just simply in a difficult situation where mistakes are bound to happen.  

Pressey's late-game troubles are something that surfaced this season. Haith said Pressey was "outstanding" last season, performing much more reliably in late-game situations.

"We just got to make better decisions and make sure we get to the line or we get good shots," Haith said.

Although Pressey says his struggles frustrate him, he sees no point in dwelling on them.

"You can't complain too much," Pressey said. "You just have to try your best and learn from it and not make the same mistakes."

Missouri will need Pressey and the entire team to learn from Saturday's loss when it plays No. 5 Florida on Tuesday night at Mizzou Arena.

Florida is a team that has separated itself from the rest of the Southeastern Conference at 21-3 overall and 11-1 in the conference. The Gators have four players averaging double-digit scoring in guard Kenny Boynton (13 points), guard Mike Rosario (12.9), forward Erik Murphy (12.7) and center Patric Young (10.5).

"It's going to take a tremendous effort for us to have success tomorrow night," Haith said.

The Tigers have not lost back-to-back games this season and are 14-0 at Mizzou Arena this season.

Missouri also hasn't forgotten about Florida's 83-52 beat down of the Tigers on Jan. 19 in Gainesville, Fla.

Forward Alex Oriakhi put his feelings bluntly.

"They kicked our butts," Oriakhi said. "I'm not going to lie to you and say we don't want revenge. Obviously, we want to show we're one of the best teams in America. We want to win tomorrow."

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