Tag Archives: Alex Oriakhi

Phil Pressey declares for NBA draft, leaves behind inexperienced Mizzou backcourt

By Matthew Fairburn

Frank Haith, right, huddles with the team during a time out in the Auburn game. Missouri is 14-0 at home and winless on the road.

The Missouri Tigers will have a very different look next year with the loss of Phil Pressey, center, graduating seniors and transfers.

Missouri junior guard Phil Pressey announced his intention to enter the 2013 NBA draft, ending his career as a Tiger and leaving behind an inexperienced backcourt in Columbia.

Pressey, who has signed with an agent, announced his decision on Wednesday. According to NCAA rules, when an athlete signs with an agent her or she is no longer able to compete at the collegiate level.

Pressey’s departure comes on the heels of Negus Webster-Chen announcing he will transfer. The only other point guard who has seen significant action for Missouri this season was Keion Bell, who is a senior.

The two likely candidates to take over at point guard are Jordan Clarkson and Wesley Clark. Clarkson sat out the 2012-13 season after transferring from Tulsa, where he average 16.5 point per game as a sophomore.

Clark, meanwhile, will enter the program as a true freshman. A four-star recruit of Romulus, Mich., according to Rivals.com, Clark has the promise to become Missouri’s starting point guard eventually, but it’s tough say how much he will contribute right away. Even Pressey only started 12 games as a true freshman.

Pressey’s production won’t be easy to replace. While he shot only 37 percent from the field, he averaged 11.9 points and 7.1 assists per game this season, setting the Missouri career record for assists in the process.

Despite the impressive statistics, Pressey was plagued by questionable decision-making late in games and finished his career 0-3 in NCAA tournament games. Leaving Missouri without winning was the hardest part of the decision for him.

“I wish we could have brought home a national championship banner, but coming to Mizzou was the best decision of my life,” Pressey said in a release from the school.

Beyond the depleted backcourt, Missouri also has to find a way to replace seniors Laurence Bowers and Alex Oriakhi, who accounted for a big chunk of the team’s production in the paint. Tony Criswell received more minutes than any returning frontcourt player, but the team’s roster is inexperienced in that area as well.

With three scholarships remaining, coach Frank Haith still has a chance to add to the roster. With the departure of Phil Pressey, the last of coach Mike Anderson’s recruits is now gone, and the Tigers’ roster for the 2013-14 season will have been built entirely by Haith and his staff.

Mizzou men lose in the first round, 84-72 to Colorado State

By the Associated Press

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Dorian Green scored 17 of his 26 points in the first half and eighth-seeded Colorado State used good shooting and great rebounding to run away from No. 9 Missouri 84-72 Thursday night in the NCAA tournament.

Green, who went scoreless with five turnovers in last year’s second-round upset to Murray State, did much better this time as the Rams shot nearly 58 percent in the first half.

Minnesota transfer and Rams big man Colton Iverson outrebounded Missouri by himself through 27 minutes and finished with 13 boards.

First-year Rams coach Larry Eustachy earned the victory with his fourth tournament team, but the road gets tougher as they advance to face top-seeded Louisville in Saturday’s third-round Midwest Regional game at Rupp Arena.

Phil Pressey’s 20 points led the Tigers (23-11). Alex Oriakhi scored 16 and Jabari Brown added 14.

Greg Smith and Jon Octeus each added 12 points while Wes Eikmeier added 11 for Colorado State (26-8), which was rarely threatened by Missouri.

The lopsided outcome was surprising considering the teams’ similarities that made this an intriguing matchup.

Besides balanced offenses with at least four starters averaging in double figures, Colorado State and Missouri also have thrived on the glass. The Rams entered the game with a rebound margin of 12.1 per game, tops in the nation, with the Tigers third at 9.6.

Iverson averaged 14.7 points per game to key Colorado State’s return to the tournament along with Eustachy, who led Southern Mississippi here last year. The 6-foot-10 senior has been helped by Eikmeier (12.7 points) and Green (12.8 points) and Smith (11.1).

Missouri meanwhile featured one of the field’s most balanced offenses, with Laurence Bowers (14.4 points) leading five starters averaging at least 11 points per game. Pressey has been one of the Tigers’ most interesting stories, a talented guard who has tended to make mistakes in key moments.

That made for an entertaining first half that Colorado State led 47-38 by setting the offensive pace before falling into an end-to-end game more to Missouri’s liking.

The Rams shot 15 of 26 (58 percent) in the first half and seemed primed to run away from the Tigers. Green was 3 for 3 from beyond the arc.

Missouri was 15 of 30 in the first 20 minutes with four 3-pointers.

Missouri closed to 49-45 early in the second half, but the Rams responded with a 17-4 surge for their biggest lead at 66-49 lead.

Mizzou basketball lands three on AP All-SEC Teams

By Matt Fairburn

The Associated Press named three Missouri Tigers to its All-Southeastern Conference Teams on Monday. Phil Pressey earned first team honors, while Laurence Bowers earned second team honors and Alex Oriakhi was named an honorable mention.

Last week, Pressey was given first team all-conference honors from the coaches, who also named Bowers to the second team. Pressey leads the SEC in assists, averaging 7.1 per game. The junior guard is also averaging career highs in points (11.6) and rebounds (3.4).

Meanwhile, after struggling through a knee injury early in the season, Bowers came on strong at the end of the season to earn the praise of the SEC media and coaches. The fifth year senior is in the top 10 of the conference for scoring, averaging 14.4 points per game.

Bowers has enjoyed success this season alongside Oriakhi, who transferred from the University of Connecticut for his senior season. Oriakhi has played particularly well for the Tigers down the stretch. He has 11 double-doubles this season, including one in the team’s opening round victory in the SEC tournament over Texas A&M. He led the team in points in both games of the conference tournament.

Missouri enters the NCAA Tournament as a No. 9 seed and will face No. 8 seed Colorado State on Thursday March 21 at 8:20 p.m. Central time in Lexington, Ky.

Haith still waiting for Missouri roster to click

By the Associated Press

Teammates Phil Pressey (1) Keion Bell (5) Laurence Bowers (21) and  Earnest Ross (33) take the floor against No.5 Florida on Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013.

Inconsistent play has plagued the Tigers this season, with veterans Phil Pressey (1) and Laurence Bowers (21) and transfer Keion Bell (5.) Along with Earnest Ross (33) in this Feb. 19, 2013, file photo.

ST. LOUIS — All season, Missouri flashed signs it could be a dangerous team come March. Unfortunately, there were nearly as many times that it showed much less promise.

There is a reason the Tigers are a No. 9 seed in the Midwest Regional. Coach Frank Haith has had to integrate a group of transfers into the system.

“It has been a challenge, but it’s been a challenge that’s come together because we’re still playing,” Haith said.

Leading rebounder Alex Oriakhi (Connecticut) and guard Keion Bell (Pepperdine), who led the team in scoring in Southeastern Conference games, are one-year senior rentals. Sophomore Jabari Brown (Oregon) is averaging 13.7 points and junior Earnest Ross (Auburn) is the SEC’s best player off the bench, averaging 10 points and five rebounds.

The Sporting News ranked that one of the best transfer classes in history.

The Tigers (23-10) are the only major school in the nation with six players averaging in double figures and are second in the country in rebounding, reflecting depth and versatility. But they have yet to put it all together for Haith, last year’s national coach of the year, and get a tough test out of the box against No. 8 seed Colorado State (25-8) on Thursday in Lexington, Ky.

Missouri was a perfect 16-0 at home, including a victory over then-No. 5 Florida, but just 2-8 on the road.

“You’re not going to play a team that’s not any good,” Haith said. “So, if you don’t play with a sense of urgency, you’re going to be going home.”

The 6-foot-8 Oriakhi has been a presence inside, averaging 11 points and 8.6 rebounds. He has taken on a much larger role than he had with Connecticut’s national title team in 2011.

Haith often touted Bell for all-SEC honors. The last 11 games of the regular season, Bell averaged 15.7 points on 58 percent shooting.

Brown leads the team in 3-pointers even though he wasn’t eligible until the semester break in mid-December, and had a pair of 23-point efforts. Ross had a season-high 23 points against Auburn, his old school.

Melding that group with point guard Phil Pressey, the lone holdover starter from the 30-win team in Haith’s first season, has not been easy. Pressey was a first-team All-SEC pick with six games of 10 or more assists and four double-doubles for points and assists, a school record, yet struggled with a spate of questionable late-game decisions.

The tournament gives Pressey a chance to put those troubles behind him.

“It doesn’t matter who you play, anybody can be beat, everybody brings their A game come NCAA tournament,” Pressey said. “Our mind-set is we’re going win the whole thing, so we’re going to bring our A game just like everybody else.”

Forward Laurence Bowers, who missed last season with a knee injury, is the only other player with NCAA experience.

“A lot of teams don’t get this opportunity,” Bowers said. “So whenever you see your name it brings, I don’t know, it’s kind of joyous.”

Missouri is in the tournament for the fifth straight season, matching the school’s longest runs, from 1986-90 under Norm Stewart and from 1999-03 under Stewart and Quin Snyder.

Pressey not worried about Mizzou’s No. 9 seed

By the Associated Press

ST. LOUIS — Selection Sunday held zero allure for Phil Pressey, who wasted no brain power fretting about where Missouri might fit in after an inconsistent season.

CSU infoThe Tigers’ point guard, whose scattershot late-game decision-making was a large contributing factor in several almost-wins, was just fine with the No. 9 seed in the Midwest Regional and a matchup against Colorado State (25-8) on Thursday in Lexington, Ky.

“If it was up to me, I’d be in the gym shooting somewhere, then somebody would come tell me where we are,” Pressey said after the team’s selection watch gathering in Columbia. “You have to play everybody sooner or later. I just feel like the only thing you control is your game, it doesn’t matter what seed you are or who you play.”

Missouri (23-10) is in the tournament for the fifth straight season, tying the school record, and second straight time under coach Frank Haith. Unlike last March when the school was a No. 2 seed coming off a Big 12 tournament championship, there’s little buzz surrounding this year’s edition that enters having lost two of its last three.

Pressey, the preseason SEC player of the year, is the lone returning starter from last season’s 30-win team that appeared primed for a deep run but was one and done after getting upset by No. 15 seed Norfolk State.

“We shot over 50 percent from 3, they played the game of their lives,” Haith said. “You’ve got to be prepared for that when you play in a tournament setting. That’s what this tournament is about, guys living out a dream and making one shining moment.”

All season, Haith has worked on melding a roster heavy on transfers including two seniors, forward Alex Oriakhi and guard Keion Bell.

Oriakhi played on Connecticut’s 2011 national title team. He’ll offer simple advice to teammates.

“I just tell them, if you’re fortunate to get past the first one, the rest of them are very hard,” Oriakhi said. “All I tell them is take it one day at a time, take it one game at a time, one possession at a time. Just don’t think too far ahead.”

Missouri is the only school in the country with six players averaging in double figures, making depth a strength.

“None of us want our season to be over with,” said forward Laurence Bowers, a fifth-year senior who missed last season with a knee injury and the acknowledged team leader. “I really think we have a team that can go on a special run.

The Tigers are a No. 9 seed due to inconsistency and a failure to close out games, especially on the road where they were just 2-8 and dropped out of the Top 25. Squandering a 14-point second-half cushion in a two-point loss to Mississippi in the SEC tournament quarterfinals was just the latest example.

Saturday was difficult for Haith, who re-played the Ole Miss loss in his head, but as the time neared for the bracket unveiling, the excitement returned.

“I’ve never taken it for granted, I know how excited I am,” Haith said. “I don’t know if people realize how hard it is to make the NCAA tournament. There’s a lot of good teams, a lot of great tradition not making the tournament.”

Haith keeps insisting he sees signs that he has a team ready to contend.

“The sense of urgency, I thought we had it in the conference tournament,” Haith said. “Obviously, Ole Miss played great down the stretch and beat us, but I think this team has been playing great the last half of the year.

“I’m really encouraged by how we’ve been playing, and now you compete for a national championship.”

Bowers, Mizzou welcome back Mike Anderson with a 93-63 win over Arkansas

By Matthew Fairburn

Columbia, Mo.— When Arkansas coach Mike Anderson made his way out of the tunnel and onto Norm Stewart Court on Tuesday night for the first time since leaving Missouri in 2011, he was greeted with a chorus of boos from the Tiger fans at Mizzou Arena.

As it turned out, the boos were the least of his problems, as Missouri (22-8 overall, 11-6 in the Southeastern Conference) dominated the game from the opening tip, sending Arkansas (18-12, 8-8) home with a 93-63 loss.

“They had a lot of things going in their direction, so you have to give them credit,” Anderson said after the game. “It was a great atmosphere.”

The atmosphere was made more emotional by a pre-game ceremony honoring Missouri’s three seniors: Laurence Bowers, Alex Oriakhi and Keion Bell.

Bowers stole the show against the coach that recruited him to Missouri though. For the second straight game, Bowers finished with a double-double and paced his team with 24 points and 11 rebounds.

“This is was the way I wanted to go out my senior night,” Bowers said. “We got the win.”

The heightened excitement in the building affected the Tigers in the early going.

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Alex Oriakhi managing his emotions, becoming a leader for Mizzou basketball

By Matthew Fairburn
Missouri senior forward Alex Oriakhi has a tendency to let his temper get the best of him.
On the court, that has led to foul trouble, which has hurt the team. Over the course of the season, Oriakhi has learned to manage his emotions with the help of his coaches and teammates.
Heading into the final stretch of the Tigers’ season, Oriakhi has become a leader for the team.


Supervising Editor on this story was Megan Rentschler

Bowers and Oriakhi dominate as Mizzou beats LSU 89-76

Photos by Matthew Fairburn
Story by the Associated Press
Keion Bell collects a pass in the second half of Saturday's win over LSU. Bell finished the game with 11 points and six rebounds.

Keion Bell collects a pass in the second half of Saturday’s win over LSU. Bell finished the game with 11 points and six rebounds.

Even with Missouri coach Frank Haith sitting next to him on the podium, Alex Oriakhi could not stifle himself.

The memory fresh from struggles in the first meeting against LSU, the senior forward said the rematch was more than just a game.

“I just wanted revenge,” Oriakhi said after getting 18 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks, helping the Tigers stay unbeaten at home with an 89-76 victory over LSU on Saturday. “I didn’t care how much I scored, I just wanted to win.”

After failing to suppress a laugh, Haith scolded Oriakhi about “Media Training 101″ and did his best to re-direct questioning elsewhere.

“Please. No more. He’s done,” Haith said as Oriakhi and Laurence Bowers guffawed while bolting for the locker room.

Bowers had 23 points and 10 rebounds and Phil Pressey added 15 points, eight assists and five rebounds for the Tigers (21-8, 10-6 SEC), who rallied from an early 13-point deficit. They’re 16-0 at Mizzou Arena but just 2-7 on the road, including a three-point loss at LSU on Jan 31.

Oriakhi was held to one point, three rebounds with four fouls in the first meeting. Missouri emphasized getting the ball inside in the rematch, totaling 52 points in the lane.

“I think that’s just what we are,” Oriakhi said. “A lot of credit goes to the guards, they’re just spotting us. Phil is just putting us in perfect position where all we’ve got to do is lay the ball in or dunk it.”

Bowers had his highest point total since also scoring 23 against Illinois in December, and earned his second double double in 10 games since returning from a knee injury.

“I just got lost in the game,” Bowers said. “Coach sent me a text this morning that just said, ‘Play free.’ I think that’s what I did and it really helped me.”

Anthony Hickey posted career bests with 22 points and six 3-pointers for LSU (17-10, 8-8), which matched its season best with 12 3-pointers but shot 42 percent overall compared with a season-best 55.6 percent in the first meeting. Charles Carmouche had 21 points, the fourth 20-plus outing in five games for the senior guard who averages 10.1 points.

“I think he’s found his niche and what he’s capable of doing,” coach Johnny Jones said. “He understands that he’s a senior, this is it for him, and he’s playing with a great sense of urgency.”

Missouri escaped an early 25-12 hole by pounding it inside, with seven baskets on dunks, tip-ins or follow shots out of their 18 first-half baskets. The Tigers shot 54.5 percent overall and led 43-39 at the half.

“I think we did a good job coming out, throwing the first punch and kind of letting them know that we were here to win the ballgame,” Carmouche said. “We kind of took our foot off the gas. Missouri’s a pretty good team, and they took advantage of it.”

LSU was 6 for 8 from 3-point range to open the game before Missouri surfaced with a 24-6 run for an 8-point cushion with 2:31 to go, including eight points from reserve Earnest Ross in just over a minute.

LSU closed the gap with two late 3-pointers from Hickey, who was 5 for 8 and had 17 points.

Hickey was 6 for 14 from 3-point range and topped his previous best of 21 points against Northwestern State in November. He had 20 points in the first meeting despite going 1 for 7 from long range.

Missouri led by as many as 16 points in the second half, pulling away from a 43-39 lead at the break. LSU got no closer than eight points in the final minutes, aided by shaky free throw shooting by Missouri.

The win improved Missouris record at home this season to 16-0. The team returns to the court on Tuesday night when it takes on Arkansas for senior night. Tip off is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Mizzou Arena.
The supervising editor on this story was Megan Rentschler

Hot-shooting Mizzou beats South Carolina 90-68

By the Associated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. — On a night where Missouri shot almost 70 percent from the field, the Tigers knew the key player was someone who never shot the ball.

Point guard Phil Pressley had nine assists, running the offense for Missouri (20-8, 9-6 Southeastern Conference) almost to perfection in the Tigers 90-68 win over South Carolina on Thursday night.

“A guy can affect the game like that without taking a shot in a positive way. There are few guys in the country that can do that,” Missouri coach Frank Haith said.

Missouri shot 69.6 percent (32 of 46) for the game, and plenty of those baskets were easy. The Tigers had 10 dunks and 46 points in the paint to pick up just their second win on the road this season. Missouri shot just nine 3-pointers, making six of them against overmatched South Carolina (13-15, 3-12).

Plenty of those plays were set up by Pressley, the SEC leader in assists at seven a game.

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Kentucky comes back to beat Mizzou in OT, 90-83

By the Associated Press

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Julius Mays’ eight points in overtime, including four clinching free throws in the final 33 seconds, helped Kentucky get the important victory it needed to bolster its NCAA tournament chances, beating Missouri 90-83 Saturday night.

Mays made six free throws in overtime and scored 21 of his 24 points after halftime for the Wildcats (19-8, 10-4 Southeastern Conference), who needed a “quality” win to go along with their triumph over then-No. 16 Mississippi last month. Kentucky got it by holding serve at Rupp Arena over Missouri (19-8, 8-6) in the marquee game on ESPN College Game Day, and the Wildcats’ backcourt was key in beating the Tigers.

Archie Goodwin scored all 18 of his points after intermission while Ryan Harrow added 16 with eight rebounds and six assists. That helped offset Phil Pressey’s 27 points and Missouri’s determined effort that forced overtime.

Instead, the Tigers saw their road woes continue in falling to 1-7.

Alex Poythress added 21 points for the Wildcats, who improved to 2-1 since losing freshman center Nerlens Noel to a season-ending knee injury.

Kentucky shot 30 of 59 from the field (51 percent). Missouri finished 33 of 76 (43.4 percent).

Alex Oriakhi added 16 points and Laurence Bowers 13 for the Tigers. Read more of this post

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