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Phil Pressey's career day leads Tigers to win over Longhorns

The sophomore point guard took late control for an 84-73 victory.

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Sophomore point guard Phil Pressey celebrates as he runs down the floor after a key transition dunk in the second half Saturday afternoon at Mizzou Arena. Pressey helped lead the Tigers to a 84-73 victory over the Texas Longhorns, which put them at 16-1 on the season

Ben Walton/Staff Photographer

Jan. 14, 2012

There was 9:36 left in the game Saturday during a Big 12 Conference battle between No. 9 Missouri and Texas at Mizzou Arena. The score was 62-57 in favor of Missouri, but Texas was in the midst of a 16-5 run.

It was Missouri sophomore guard Phil Pressey’s time to orchestrate the finishing touches on a victory for MU.

On the Tigers’ ensuing possession, Phil Pressey converted a contested three. After a defensive stop, Pressey made good on two free throws. Then came the dagger. Pressey stole the ball at half court, and a handful of steps later, slammed it home for his sixth and seventh consecutive points, shutting the door on the Longhorns' comeback hopes.

The stretch of seven straight points for Pressey ensured No. 9 Missouri (16-1, 3-1 Big 12 Conference) of its second consecutive win, as the Tigers proceeded to win 84-73.

Pressey, a Texas native, had his best performance as a Tiger, scoring 18 points while dishing out 10 assists. More impressive than those gaudy numbers are the zero turnovers from the young point guard.

“What he did out there was tremendous,” coach Frank Haith said. “He had the ball all the time and to not have a turnover is tremendous. He had a tremendous game, he really did. He was outstanding.”

Texas coach Rick Barnes called Pressey’s performance the most impressive he’s seen from a player this year.

Barnes told his team they would let Pressey “score 35,” so long as he doesn’t take over the game.

Pressey took those shots he was given, and whether he was shooting at the end of a possession or not, he was in control of the game at all times.

“I know I’m going to have to be able to take the shots that they give me and I work on them every day and (my teammates) trust me to shoot those shots,” Pressey said.

After making good on just 12-of-45 three-point attempts the last two games, the Tigers returned to their sharp-shooting ways in the first half of the Saturday afternoon matinee at Mizzou Arena.

Missouri was on the mark early and often, jumping out to a 33-19 lead. Through the game’s first 12 minutes, the Tigers were 11-of-17 from the field and an even more impressive 7-of-8 from beyond the arc.

Senior guard Marcus Denmon led the way early on for the Tigers, making four of his first five three-point attempts en route to a 14-point half. The Kansas City native would finish with 18 points and lead all players with 11 rebounds.

Senior forward Ricardo Ratliffe also had an impressive line in the box score for the Tigers, finishing with 21 points and four rebounds on 10-of-12 shooting.

Texas junior guard J’Covan Brown, the Big 12’s leading scorer, had a monster day for Texas, scoring 34 points.

Saturday’s matchup pitted Haith against his coaching mentor in Barnes. Haith was an assistant under Barnes at Texas from 2002 to 2004.

The game marked a special occurrence for both, as the two remain good friends.

“It was a tough day," Haith said. "I love Rick. We have a bond beyond this game we play. We have a tremendous friendship, and unfortunately both of us couldn’t win today.”

Barnes raved about the work his former assistant has done at MU thus far.

“People have no idea the job he did at Miami,” Barnes said. “Missouri is lucky to have him.”

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