Tag Archives: Laurence Bowers

Men’s basketball preview: Players to watch, Mizzou without Haith

By The Associated Press

COLUMBIA —Frank Haith saw too many off-target free throws, blown layups and turnovers in Missouri’s opening exhibition men’s basketball game.

Coach Frank Haith

Coach Frank Haith

A team that has four new starters will have to get better without their head coach in the early going.

Haith is suspended for the first five games of the season after the NCAA found he inadequately monitored his former assistants’ interactions with a disgraced Miami booster during his time as coach of the Hurricanes, and then tried to cover up a payment intended to keep potential violations hidden.

The games he misses don’t appear particularly challenging for the Tigers, with four at home and a fifth on a neutral court. The opener is Nov. 8 at home against Southeastern Louisiana with other home dates against Southern Illinois, Gardner-Webb and IUPUI, plus a Nov. 16 matchup against Hawaii in Kansas City.

But there are things for the Tigers to work on.

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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 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, Pressey earn SEC conference awards

By Matthew Fairburn

Phil Pressey and Laurence Bowers were named to All-Southeastern Conference teams today. Pressey earned first team honors, while Bowers landed on the second team.

While Pressey has drawn criticism for his performance late in games, the SEC coaches recognized him for another outstanding statistical season. He leads the conference in assists per game with 7.1 and is No. 7 nationally in that category. His 221 assists on the season are just two shy of his Missouri single-season record of 223, which he set last season.

After being named to the SEC Community Service Team on Monday, Bowers was named Second Team All-SEC on Tuesday. Despite missing five games with a knee injury, Bowers lead Missouri with seven 20-point games, including three straight entering the conference tournament. Bowers is averaging 14.8 points and 6.3 rebounds per game while shooting more than 55 percent from the field.

The Tigers tip off in the SEC Tournament on Thursday night in Nashville, Tenn. Missouri will play the winner of Texas A&M and Auburn at 9 p.m. Central time.

Mizzou men’s basketball outworked in 64-62 loss to Tennesssee

By Matthew Fairburn

SEC Tournament bracket (PDF)

Tennessee wanted Saturday’s game more than Missouri did, and the Volunteers played like it.

A rushed 3-point attempt from Phil Pressey sealed Missouri’s fate, but the 64-62 Tennessee win was a product of the Volunteers’ hard work.

The Tigers came into the game No. 2 in the nation in rebounding, averaging 41.4 boards per game, but afforded the Volunteers a 45-32 edge in that department. Tennessee (19-11 overall, 11-7 in conference play) outworked Missouri (22-9, 11-7) on the glass and found open looks in the second half while Missouri struggled to fight through ball screens.

With Alex Oriakhi and Laurence Bowers in early foul trouble, no Tiger managed more than six rebounds in the game.

The loss overshadowed another strong performance for Bowers, though. He put up a game-high 20 points, marking the third consecutive game Bowers has hit the 20 point mark. Bowers also provided the highlight of the afternoon, throwing down a two-handed dunk over Jarnell Stokes, sending the Tennessee forward sprawling to the ground.

Pressey was the only other Tiger in double figures in the loss, as he recorded 10 points and had nine assists, but also turned the ball over a team-high three times.

Missouri led 50-42 with just over 10 minutes to play in the game before Tennessee ripped off a 16-3 run to take control heading into the final minutes.

Pressey took the ball up court for the Tigers with just under 30-seconds to play and immediately fired a 3-pointer that wasn’t close to falling and elicited a furious reaction from coach Frank Haith. Two Tennessee free throws made a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from Earnest Ross irrelevant to the outcome of the game.

The loss pushes the Tigers from the No. 3 seed in the SEC Tournament to the No. 6 seed. Instead of earning a top four seed and a double bye in the tournament, the Tigers will have to play an extra game to advance to the quarterfinals. Tennessee moves to the No. 5 seed and adds another quality win to its resume for the NCAA Tournament.

The Texas A&M and Auburn will face off in the first round of the SEC Tournament, and the winner will play Missouri in round two. Regardless of the opponent, Missouri’s next game is scheduled for Thursday, March 14 at 9 p.m. in Nashville, Tenn.

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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Mizzou forward Alex Oriakhi named SEC Player of the Week

By Matthew Fairburn

Missouri forward Alex Oriakhi earned Player of the Week honors in the Southeastern Conference on Monday after recording his 10th double-double of the season on Saturday against Louisiana State University.

In Missouri’s two wins last week over LSU and South Carolina, Oriakhi shot 15-17 from the field and averaged 18 points and 6.5 rebounds per game.

“All the credit goes to my teammates,” Oriakhi said. “They give me the ball in position, all I have to do is dunk it. I’m just glad to be winning. I’ll take winning over everything.”

Oriakhi’s strong play comes at just the right time for the Tigers, who are making a push to receive one of the top four seeds in the SEC and ensure a double bye in the conference tournament.

On Tuesday, Missouri (21-8 overall, 10-6 in the SEC) takes on Arkansas (18-11, 9-7) in its final home game of the season. While the game marks Arkansas coach Mike Anderson’s first trip to Mizzou Arena since leaving Missouri in 2011, the game will be emotional for a different reason; it’s senior night for the Tigers.

Laurence Bowers, Keion Bell and Oriakhi will all be honored before the game. While Bowers has played a full career at Missouri, Bell and Oriakhi have spent only one season on the court for the Tigers. Still, Oriakhi expects it to be a memorable night.

“It feels like I belong here for some reason,” Oriakhi said. “I don’t know what the emotions will be like, but Mizzou has definitely been special to me.”

The 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
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