Wildcats Stave Off Pressey, Mizzou in OT

Saturday, Feb. 23-

Fresh off an exhilarating home victory over the Florida Gators, the Missouri Tigers basketball squad lost an overtime thriller to the Kentucky Wildcats in their first ever trip to legendary Rupp Arena. The loss drops the Tigers to 19-8 overall and 9-6 in SEC play, which places Missouri tied for sixth in the league standings.

In a season in which Mizzou has had many struggles on the road, this game was somewhat of a must-win for the Tigers considering the lack of road victories on their resume.

In the beginning of the contest, the game was shaping up to be a big win for Mizzou. The Tigers were connecting on their shots and holding Kentucky’s young studs in check. Missouri held a 17-8 lead after eight minutes of play.

Slowly, the Wildcats began to chip away at the deficit. UK’s talented big man freshman Willie Cauley-Stein gave Mizzou problems all night on the glass and with his shot blocking. The diaper dandy grabbed 12 boards and swatted seven shots.

UK continued to inch closer by getting to the free-throw line at will. The Wildcats forced Mizzou into the penalty and got to the line frequently. The two teams went to the locker rooms with Mizzou leading 35-31.

In the second half, the Wildcats came out firing led by the hot hand of freshman Archie Goodwin. Goodwin was scoreless in the first half before he poured in 12 points in less than six minutes. He finished with 18 points total.

Mizzou surrendered the lead to Kentucky after junior Phil Pressey had to sit due to foul trouble. The Cats extended their lead to seven before the Tigers regained their composure.

Pressey began penetrating the defense and making the right decisions with the ball as Mizzou tightened the game.

After a pair of Pressey steals in the final two minutes, Mizzou had regained a 75-73 advantage with just a minute remaining. But UK answered back after Cauley-Stein’s game-tying layup with 40 seconds left. Pressey failed to connect on the go-ahead layup, sending the game into overtime.

In the extra period, Phil began taking some questionable shots and made a few costly turnovers late in the game that ultimately cost Mizzou the ball game. The absence of Laurence Bowers, who fouled out of the game, hurt Mizzou in the extra period. Kentucky made the right plays and gave Mizzou no chance, knocking down all of fits free throws.

Despite the loss and late game falters, Pressey finished with 27 points, 10 assists, and four steals. Oriahki also had a monster game recording 16 points and hauling in 15 boards.

Mizzou will be on the road again when the Tigers head to South Carolina for a match-up with the Gamecocks. Tip off will be at 8 p.m. Thursday.

-Logan McKee
23 Sports
Staff Writer