Pressey, Bowers lead Mizzou to upset of No. 5 Florida

Missouri's Laurence Bowers (21) and Phil Pressey (1) embrace as Missouri's Keion Bell hits two free throws with 3 seconds left to seal the win for Mizzou.

Missouri’s Laurence Bowers (21) and Phil Pressey (1) embrace as Missouri’s Keion Bell hits two free throws with three seconds left to seal the win for Mizzou.

Story by Matthew Fairburn
Photos by Elaine Stockdale

COLUMBIA— As Missouri guard Phil Pressey drove the ball towards the basket with just under three minutes to play in Tuesday night’s 63-60 win against No. 5 Florida trailing by one point, he believed.

Despite the fact that the Tigers hadn’t held the lead all game, despite his recent late-game struggles against Arkansas and Texas A&M, and despite having scored just four points up until that drive, Pressey believed.

Pressey crossed left and flipped the ball off the glass and through the net, drawing a foul in the process. Pressey made the “and 1″ free throw to complete the three-point play and give Missouri its first lead of the night, the score 59-57.

“Just believing in one another,” Pressey said when asked about the key to victory. “I’m continually just keeping our guys together when we’re up and down and I know that helps out. Coaches have been harping on me to do that and it really helps our guys. It really makes us believe we can win.”

The Tigers’ first lead didn’t last long. Florida guard Scottie Wilbekin made a 3-pointer with less than two minutes to play that put the Gators back in front 60-59. But on the other end of the floor, Pressey found Laurence Bowers for the eventual game-winning shot to give the Tigers a 61-60 advantage.

The two points gave Bowers a team-high 17, and the assist was Pressey’s 10th of the game. Two Keion Bell free throws with less than 10 seconds to play pushed the final score to 63-60.

Bowers’ 17 points marked his highest output since returning from injury.

“I talked with coach, and I just needed to play with nothing on my mind,” Bowers said. “Just worry about defense and rebounding like he said. That was my approach.”

Missouri  (19-7, 8-5) did not get the start it wanted. A few missed assignments and trouble fighting through screens led to open shots for the Gators, who made four of their first six 3-pointers and opened up a 20-9 lead on the Tigers early on.

Florida (21-4, 11-2), who came into the game ranked third nationally allowing just 52.6 points per game, made life tough on the Missouri offense in the early going. The Gators’ disciplined defense prevented the Tigers from finding the open looks they wanted to in the early going.

But for a brief period of time in the first half, the shots stopped falling for the Gators. The sellout crowd of 15,061, dressed in mostly black, energized Missouri’s defense and helped disrupt the rhythm of Florida’s offense.

“Tonight’s energy was outstanding,” Haith said. “I thought it helped will our guys to win. Even though we got down 13, the crowd stayed with us and that really helped.”

Florida missed seven straight 3-pointers to close out the first half, allowing Missouri to close the gap to 29-26.

The Gators snapped out of the offensive funk after halftime, pulling ahead 49-36 after the break. But Jabari Brown sunk a 3-pointer off an assist from Pressey to start a 12-0 Missouri run that narrowed Florida’s lead to a single point, setting the stage for the back and forth finish.

Florida came into the game out rebounding its opponents by an average of seven rebounds per game, but Missouri held the advantage in that department, grabbing 40 rebounds to Florida’s 28.

Gators coach Billy Donovan wasn’t surprised by the rebounding disparity, despite the fact that his team had a 10-rebound edge against the Tigers the first time the two teams met.

“That’s going to be a battle for us every game,” Donovan said. “We don’t have the same team when they came to our place, and they didn’t have the same team. We both have had to battle some different injuries and different setbacks.”

The win keeps the Tigers undefeated at Mizzou Arena this season. Missouri plays again on Saturday at Kentucky. Tip off is scheduled for 8 p.m.

Supervising editors for this story were Jared Jeffries and Megan Rentschler

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3 responses to “Pressey, Bowers lead Mizzou to upset of No. 5 Florida

  1. Pingback: Gator Bait: Missouri rallies, takes bite out of Florida, 63-60 + links + video » KC SportsNation

  2. Pingback: Armageddon!! | The Gator Narrator

  3. Pingback: Pressey, Bowers lead Mizzou to upset of No. 5 Florida | Elaine Stockdale, Journo Blog

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