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Mistakes haunt Missouri's Phil Pressey despite big game in overtime loss

Sunday, February 24, 2013 | 12:28 a.m. CST; updated 2:34 p.m. CDT, Friday, April 12, 2013
Missouri point guard Phil Pressey drives the ball during the second half of the basketball game against Kentucky on Saturday at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky. Pressey had a career high 27 points and 10 assists in the loss.

LEXINGTON, KY — It was your-seat-is-vibrating loud.

It was stand-for-every-single rebound loud. It was lift-your-daughter-wearing-a Kentucky-cheerleader-uniform-after-every-three-point-basket, loud. It was curse-at-the-top-of-your-lungs-whenever-a-call-did-not-go-the-home-team’s-way loud. It was too-many-people-know-how-to-do-that-ear-splitting-whistle-thing loud.

Rupp Arena was loud on Saturday, loudest when the final buzzer sounded and Kentucky beat Missouri 90-83 in overtime.  

***

Phil Pressey stood motionless on the court.

Sure, he paired a career high 27 points with 10 assists. This was arguably his best game.

But he also missed the layup that would have won the game for the Tigers at the end of regulation, and had a costly turnover with 49 seconds left in overtime. 

He slowly walked over to the Kentucky bench, and shook hands. Someone patted him on the head. Kentucky coach John Calipari pulled him close to talk. Laurence Bowers put his arm around him. Cameras flashed and followed.

Didn’t matter. Nothing mattered. Pressey walked away from the court, not saying a word, refusing to stop his stride, the first Missouri player to enter the tunnel. 

***

The media room was huge. The eight rows of reporters patiently waited, all faced in the direction of the stage that stood vacant aside from the three microphones.

There were blue curtains, blue chairs and a blue backdrop. The floor tiles were checkered, white and blue. 

Missouri athletic director Mike Alden sat in the fifth row, while reporters ranging from ESPN to local newspapers sat quietly. 

After 10 minutes of waiting, Frank Haith, Bowers and Pressey walked in. They walked behind the curtains, and stepped up onto the stage.

Pressey sat and stared. Not at anyone in particular, or in any specific direction. A lady walked over and placed a bottle of water inches from his hands. He didn’t look up.

He stared. 

He finally snapped out of it when a reporter asked him a question, but he was barely audible. He spoke quietly, away from the microphone that Haith reached over to place by his point guard’s mouth.

If you weren’t sitting in the first three rows, you didn’t get any Pressey quotes. 

***

Haith wiped his face.

Yet another road loss, the seventh one this year, eighth overall. Missouri was winning 35-31 at halftime, winning by even 13 at one point. His team only turned over the ball nine times, and were narrowly outrebounded 41-39. 

Still a loss.

He talked about Kentucky, about the atmosphere, about the key plays in the game. He talked about Pressey.

“He was outstanding tonight,” Haith said.

“It’s hard to really say anything about Phil, because we are not even in the game if Phil doesn’t play the way he played.”

And then, he got up and left. Away from the stage, away from the reporters, away from Calipari's congratulatory press conference that happened minutes later.


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