No. 13 Missouri Slips by Stanford

Thursday, Nov. 22-

In the opening round game of the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament, No. 13 Missouri struggled shooting, but ultimately survived its closest game of the early season, edging Stanford 78-70.

The game opened on a physical note, as the Tigers tried to get out on the fastbreak, but the Cardinal’s fouls prevented them from doing so. However, as the game progressed, Missouri’s star point guard, Phil Pressey, began to spark the team.

A layup and a fancy assist from Pressey to Bowers gave the Tigers an early 12-8 lead. Not long after, Stanford, who took 17 threes in the first half, went cold from behind the arc. This, mixed with pressure defense from Mizzou, allowed the Tigers to run a fast-paced offense. It launched a 10-0 run for the Tigers, who got their scoring from free throws and lay-ups.

Missouri then started to settle for outside jumpers, and went cold themselves. Stanford took advantage, and Robbie Lemons spearheaded a 12-0 run for the Cardinal that knotted the game at 28-28.

Once again however, it was Pressey who came to the rescue, as he scored or assisted on Missouri’s next seven points, including hitting the first three of the game for the Tigers. The long ball brought the score to 35-31 with a minute and a half remaining in the half. Keion Bell hit a lay-up at the buzzer to give Missouri a 37-34 lead going into the locker room.

Stanford opened the second half with four straight points to take a 38-37 lead, but Bowers knocked down his first trifecta to steal back a one-point lead for Mizzou.

Stanford answered though, and stayed with the Tigers before Pressey once again nailed a big three-pointer to hand Mizzou a 45-42 lead. An ensuing 11-5 run sparked by Earnest Ross’ scoring and rebounding gave the Tigers a seven-point advantage.

Stanford, once again, refused to go away, as Chasson Randle would lead the Cardinal in cutting the lead down to 57-55. Bowers answered by continuing his trend of strong second half play, scoring four of Missouri’s next five points to extend the lead to 62-55.

In a seesaw game, Stanford came storming back to bring the score to 68-66, but before the Cardinal could steal the lead, Bowers nailed a clutch jumper, giving Missouri a two-possession advantage. Perhaps even bigger was the ensuing charge drawn by the Tigers to prevent a Cardinal bucket.

Nursing a 74-68 lead with less than a minute remaining, Ross corralled a defensive rebound to seal the deal for the Tigers.

Pressey showed why he was the preseason SEC player of the year, as he stuffed the box score with 18 points, nine assists, five rebounds and four steals. He was at the center of just about every big play for the Tigers, who would need him down the stretch to hold off a feisty Cardinal team.

Pressey’s veteran partner, Bowers, proved just as important as he led the team in scoring with 19. His poise and leadership were key for the Tigers in the final minutes.

Stanford was led by Randle, who scored a team-high 22 points, and Dante Powell who chipped in a double-double with 18 points and 12 boards.

Missouri moves on to the next round of the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas, and will take on the winner of the Louisville/Northern Iowa game at 8:30 p.m. Friday.

-Sam Snow
23 Sports
Staff Writer