Missouri men's basketball team looks to be succesful at neutral sites

Wednesday, March 13, 2013 | 9:38 p.m. CDT; updated 7:37 p.m. CDT, Thursday, March 14, 2013
Missouri forward Laurence Bowers takes a shot over Arkansas defender Hunter Mickelson during the Tigers' 93-63 win over the Razorbacks on March 5, 2013 at Mizzou Arena. In his final game at Mizzou Arena, Bowers scored 24 points and picked up 11 rebounds.

COLUMBIA — The way the regular season has gone, it's not hard to see the 2013 Missouri men's basketball team being remembered for losing close road games. The Tigers were 2-8 on the road this season.

The Tigers are done playing at Mizzou Arena, but they won't have any more road games either. When Missouri begins play Thursday in the Southeastern Conference tournament it will be playing at a neutral site, and the Tigers have had success at neutral sites this season.

Thursday's game

SEC tournament second round
Missouri (22-9, 11-7)
vs. Texas A&M (17-14, 7-11)

WHEN: 9 p.m. CST
WHERE: Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, Tenn.
TV: KMIZ/Channel 17
RADIO: KTGR 1580 AM, 100.5/103.1 FM

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Missouri is 3-1 at neutral sites, its only loss against then-No. 2 Louisville on Nov. 23 in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas, losing 84-61.

"We've been pretty good in neutral site games, so that's the psyche we tell our guys," Missouri coach Frank Haith said Monday. "All of you guys (the media) write about how bad we've been on the road. We're not playing on the road, we're playing on a neutral site game."

Missouri opens tournament play against Texas A&M, who advanced by beating Auburn on Wednesday night.

Tigers senior forward Laurence Bowers said Wednesday there are some advantages to playing on a neutral site. It can help with scoring runs.

"On a neutral court you do have a lot of fans for your team and for the other," Bowers said. "And obviously, I think teams build off their fans like all their crowd support."

Missouri point guard Phil Pressey, who has had a role in costing Missouri close road games, had one of his best late-game performances at a neutral court in the Bahamas.

Against Virgina Commonwealth University on Nov. 24 in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament, Pressey hit a layup with under a minute to go in the game to help secure a 68-65 win. Missouri also beat Stanford and Illinois this season at neutral sites.

In close road losses against LSU, Texas A&M, Arkansas and Tennessee, Pressey either missed shots or made turnovers late in the game. In Missouri's 64-62 loss against Tennessee on Saturday, Pressey missed a potentially tying 3-pointer with 12.6 seconds to go.

The Tigers say they're not interested in past results, though. Instead, the Tigers are using the popular approach to tournament play: Live in the moment, and take it one game at a time.

"Those road loss(es), neutral court losses, home court wins, all that is out the window," Pressey said. "Everybody has a new season right now. You're 0-0 and this is where you're starting at."

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