Jan. 11, 2012
AMES, Iowa (AP)--No. 9 Missouri was down to five players with a minute left and the host Cyclones breathing down its neck.
The undermanned Tigers responded in the clutch yet again and put their only loss of the season behind them.
Matt Pressey led six players in double figures with 14 points and the Tigers got past Iowa State 76-69 on Wednesday night.
Phil Pressey and Ricardo Ratliffe each added 12 points for the Tigers (15-1, 2-1 Big 12), who bounced back from a 75-59 loss at Kansas State with a team effort--even though that team normally uses only seven players.
"We were mentally tough down the stretch, as far as getting stops and rebounding," Matt Pressey said. "We've really grown from that standpoint."
The only Missouri player to fall short of 10 points was leading scorer Marcus Denmon. But he had a game-high seven assists and four crucial free throws in the final 21 seconds after Kim English and Steve Moore had fouled out.
Missouri pushed a four-point lead to 72-66 on Ratliffe's hook shot with 32 seconds left. Iowa State's Chris Allen responded with a quick 3, but Denmon put the Cyclones away at the line.
"They've bought into playing together as a team," Missouri coach Frank Haith said. "We've got a lot of guys that can score. But we don't have a lot of guys. It's no secret. We're not going to get any taller between now and the end of the year. We're not going to add any dudes. This is what we got."
Scott Christopherson had 19 points and Allen scored 17 for Iowa State (12-4, 2-1), which lost for the first time in eight games.
Royce White finished with 16 points and six rebounds, but he was just 2 of 8 from the free throw line. The Cyclones were outrebounded 38-27, hit only four 3s in the second half and went 13 of 25 from the line.
The Cyclones were also outscored 40-20 in the paint by Missouri, which has just two legitimate big men in Ratliffe and Moore.
"I just didn't give the right effort," White said. "It was just an effort thing."
Missouri, the Big 12's best 3-point shooting team so far, shot just 29 percent from long range in its loss to the Wildcats last weekend. The Tigers again struggled from beyond the arc, hitting just four of their first 19 tries. But they took a slight edge early in the second half by dominating the boards and converting their opportunities from inside.
Consecutive jumpers by English and Denmon put the Tigers up 53-48 midway through the second half. Phil Pressey then drilled a crucial 3 from the corner and Michael Dixon hit an easy layup off a turnover to make it 66-58 Missouri with 4:52 to go.
"They made the effort plays all night. We executed our game plan perfectly. They make five 3s in 21 attempts. We just weren't tough enough," Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg said.
White was coming off the sixth triple-double in a Big 12 game, going for 10 points, 10 assists and 18 rebounds in Saturday's 74-50 win at Texas A&M.
White was fired up from the tip, screaming in Ratliffe's face after the opening basket. But White seemed a little too amped up because he picked up two fouls in the first 5 minutes.
The Cyclones withstood White's foul trouble and poor rebounding in the first half thanks to eight 3s in 12 tries--capped by Christopherson's half-court heave that rattled home at the buzzer to give Iowa State a 38-36 lead.
"It was a nice momentum boost. It would have felt a lot better if we would have taken care of the glass," Christopherson said.
Missouri was one of the nation's biggest surprises in non-conference play. The Tigers blew out Notre Dame and Cal and beat Villanova and Illinois. They opened Big 12 play with an 87-49 wipeout of Oklahoma to move to 14-0 for the fourth time in school history.
But Kansas State is no slouch itself, and the Wildcats showed it by running out to a 44-25 halftime lead and cruising to the win.
Though the Tigers finished below 30 percent from 3-point range for the second game in a row, they had just enough to get past the streaking Cyclones.
"We had a tough loss at Kansas State, and when we came back the next day in practice, the whole week we focused on being mentally tough," Matt Pressey said. "Not so much physically, but being mentally tough on both ends, defense and offense."
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