Jan. 5, 2013
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COLUMBIA, Mo.-- Phil Pressey scored a career high 26 points and Laurence Bowers chipped in 16 as No. 12 Missouri survived a 66-64 decision against a 13-win Bucknell squad to close out non-conference play Saturday afternoon at Mizzou Arena.
Mizzou knew it was in for a battle Saturday and the Mizzou Arena faithful were treated to a back-and-forth affair. The Bison (13-3) had already won six road games this season, including a 70-65 win at Purdue, but the Tigers made enough plays down the stretch to earn the key non-league win.
"I thought our guys really fought today," Head Coach Frank Haith said. "Obviously Bucknell is a veteran club and we knew they wouldn't be intimidated coming on the road. Bucknell played well, but I was really pleased with the toughness our team displayed today."
Neither squad led by more than six in the game and the Tigers rallied from a 55-51 deficit in the final five minutes to improve to 11-2. Bowers cut the Bucknell lead to 55-53 with a jumper and Phil Pressey scored seven straight Missouri points to give the club a 60-57 advantage.
"Phil was great today," Bowers said. "They were sagging off of him and he hit the big shots. He made winning plays down the stretch and we executed well in the final few possessions to get this win."
Indeed, Missouri scored points on seven of its final nine possessions in the last five minutes with the lone Bucknell stops coming after a blocked shot and a missed one-and-one.
Despite the efficiency, the finish was frenetic.
Joe Willman cut the lead to 60-59 with a baseline jumper, but Earnest Ross scored his lone hoop to push the lead back to three, 62-59.
Mike Muscala, who led Bucknell with 25 points and 14 rebounds, recorded an offensive put-back to cut the Tiger lead back to one (62-61), but Keion Bell's transition dunk gave Missouri a three-point lead once again (64-61).
Muscala again put home a Bucknell miss and once Pressey missed the front half of a one-and-one, Bucknell had a chance for the win. However Muscala had trouble corralling a pass and stepped on the baseline giving the Tigers a chance to ice the game.
Ross was immediately fouled and sank both charity tries to make it 66-63.
Leading by three, Missouri fouled after a half-court throw-in to Muscala and freshman Stefan Jankovic grabbed a Muscala miss (after making the first free throw) resulting in the 66-64 final.
Missouri returns to action on Tuesday night against Alabama. It's the SEC opener for both clubs and marks Mizzou's first league game in the new conference.