Following a familiar script, Missouri fell behind early on the road. Missouri appeared to play as if in a fog. LSU was quicker, both physically and mentally. But in the second half, Missouri fought their way back, and when Phil Pressey found Jabari Brown in the corner for a 3-PT basket with 1:05 remaining, Missouri trailed just 63-65.
Twice in the game’s final minute, Missouri had the basketball with a chance to tie the score, but inexplicably on each possession, Brown, who scored 19 points on the night, failed to touch the basketball. Instead each time, Phil Pressey, who scored a game-high 25 points, but shot just 1 of 9 from 3-PT range, and entered the game shooting just 21% from behind the arc during league play, took a pair of hurried treys. “We dug ourselves a big hole again,” explained Missouri head Coach Frank Haith. “We were taking quick shots, and our defense was not good. Our transition defense was not good. And then in the last five or six minutes of the game, we just took some horrific shots. We battled to get back in the game, but we just didn’t execute like we need to down the stretch.”
On the night, Pressey was 9-21 from the field overall, and had 5 assists against 3 turnovers. He was getting to the basket, but in crunch time, he failed to recognize that he’s not Missouri’s best option to shoot the 3-PT shot. “Late in the game we took some really bad shots,” continued Coach Haith. “We took some quick threes. We needed to continue to drive the ball, and then we needed the right guys taking threes……………………………………… We needed to get Jabari Brown more shots there at the end.”
After missing Missouri’s last five games with a sprained knee, Laurence Bowers was back in the line-up for the Tigers. He finished with 10 points on 4 of 9 shooting. But Keion Bell sat out with a shoulder injury, and Negus Webster-Chan started the game in his place.
At the start of the game, Missouri turned the ball over against LSU’s defensive pressure, and fell behind early. Earnest Ross was in the game off of the bench, and he immediately gave up back-to-back lay-ups, sandwiched around his quick turnover on Missouri’s end. He drew the wrath of Coach Haith during a timeout, and took a seat on the bench.
LSU was turning Missouri over, and getting easy transition buckets, which resulted in a 17-10 lead with 11:43 remaining in the first half.
LSU had gained confidence and momentum, and 5’10” 182-pound junior guard Andre Stringer had found the range from downtown. Missouri was struggling to maintain possession of the basketball, as well as struggling to guard the quicker LSU players. LSU led 27-15 with 7:48 remaining in the first half.
LSU’s quickness, as displayed prominently in the person of 5’11” 178-pound sophomore guard Anthony Hickey, had Missouri a step behind. Missouri continued to struggle with trying to contain Stringer and Hickey off of the dribble, as LSU pushed their lead out to 35-19 with 3:48 remaining in the first half.
LSU took a 39-26 lead into the locker room at the half. LSU Head Coach Johnny Jones had to be pleased with his team’s nearly dominant performance. LSU shot 56% from the field in the first half, and held a 12-4 halftime scoring advantage in paint. Missouri had struggled to possess the basketball during the first half, and many of Missouri’s shots were hurried and out of rhythm, which resulted in Mizzou shooting just 27% from the field in the first half.
As the second half got underway, Alex Oriakhi quickly picked up his third foul, and he went to the bench, giving way to Ryan Rosburg. Webster-Chan tapped a loose ball ahead to Phil Pressey for a lay-in, and Missouri had cut LSU’s lead to 46-36 with 15:57 remaining in the game.
Missouri was playing much better defense, and on the offensive end, Mizzou was working to get the ball inside. Laurence Bowers scored a pair of baskets in the paint, and Phil Pressey made a floater in the lane to cut into LSU’s lead. Another Pressey lay-up, and a pair of Jabari Brown free throws, and Missouri had cut LSU’s lead to 46-42 with 13:47 remaining.
Coming out of an LSU timeout, Hickey scored 7 points unanswered that stretched LSU’s lead back out to 55-45 with 11:02 remaining.
But Brown stopped the LSU run by nailing a three, and Missouri continued to chip away. After Pressey drove the lane and drew the foul, LSU led 57-49 with 7:45 remaining.
Missouri was playing much better defensively, and Pressey was driving the lane and orchestrating Mizzou’s offense. On the other end, Bowers fouled LSU’s 6’9” 256-pound sophomore forward Johnny O’Bryant III, and as the two teams went to the final TV timeout, LSU led 59-56 with 3:54 remaining.
For LSU, Hickey scored 20 points, Stringer scored 18 points, and O’Bryant scored 14 points and pulled down 11 rebounds.
For Missouri, Oriakhi was in foul trouble and played sparingly. Missouri won the battle of the boards by a 44-31 margin, but LSU shot 56% from the field to just 37% for Missouri.