In its fourth game in nine days, the No. 4 Missouri men’s basketball team outlasted Texas 67-66 on Monday night in Austin, Texas.
“Coach and we as a team have been stressing growth from the Oklahoma State game,” senior guard Kim English said in a news release after finishing with eight points and six rebounds. “This week we stayed true to what we talked about all week late in the game. Two things have to be constant: defensive stops and offensive execution.”
The point guard tandem of junior Michael Dixon and sophomore Phil Pressey anchored the Tigers (20-2, 7-2 Big 12 Conference). Dixon had his second 20-point contest with 21 on 9-of-10 shooting from the field to go along with a pair of treys. Pressey added 13 points, five assists and four rebounds.
The Longhorns (13-9, 3-6 Big 12) employed a turbulent offense in the first half with nine turnovers and not a single assist. J’Covan Brown — the team’s top scorer who dropped 34 on the Tigers on Jan. 14 in Columbia — only finished with four points.
Meanwhile, Missouri ran a quick-paced attack that thrived early in transition, scoring off two Texas turnovers. Dixon and Pressey were responsible for 16 of the Tigers’ 27 points entering halftime.
Dixon checked into the second half early and fired off a three pointer to lift his team to its best advantage of the game at 32-23. He expanded the lead after scoring six more and assisting on two more makes behind the arc from senior guard Kim English and senior guard Matt Pressey. By the half’s first TV timeout, Missouri led 39-28.
"I wanted to get him back in the game because I felt he had a nice pop and focus from the offensive standpoint,” coach Frank Haith said in a news release. “He really did a nice job executing. His play helped us get some separation.”
Texas chopped the lead to three after a rattling off an 18-7 scoring run, commanded by Brown, who scored 16 points in the half. With the score at 52-48, senior guard Marcus Denmon missed a critical try in the bonus at the free throw line. It was Phil Pressey that took hold of the Tigers and orchestrated an 11-3 scoring streak, scoring on an and-one and dishing out three assists.
After the Tigers pulled ahead to a 10-point advantage, the Longhorns took less than four minutes to bring the game within three. When Dixon was called on a flagrant for incidentally swinging an elbow toward his defender’s face, Texas made both charity shots and Brown scored to put his team ahead by one with under a minute left.
Out of his team’s timeout, Dixon slashed and lofted a left-hander high off the glass for what was the game-winner with 31 seconds on the clock.
“In the heat of the battle, there is no time to stress,” Haith said in the news release. “I want our guys to trust each other and believe we were going to win the game; that is what we were stressing. In the timeouts, we stressed that it was ‘win time.’”
Missouri will face No. 8 Kansas on Saturday at Mizzou Arena for what will be the rivalry’s first top 10 installment of the decade.