January 13, 2011

Pressey's return sparks the Tigers

Phil Pressey scored exactly two of Missouri's 77 points in Wednesday's win over Colorado. He didn't make a shot or get a rebound. He had four assists, barely a third of his season high. And, yet, he was one of the first players Mike Anderson singled out for praise after the game.

"What can you say about Phil Pressey?" Anderson asked, before answering his own question. "He's been kind of missing in action for a while and we can see the effects he has on a game. He sees the game in a different fashion than most people."

Pressey was hitting his stride in mid-December, averaging nine assists in a three-game span. He then broke a bone in his right hand two days before the Tigers played Illinois. Pressey sat out four straight before returning to the court wearing a protective glove in the second half against Colorado. On Wednesday night, he played 21 minutes against the Huskers.

Pressey's stat line didn't jump off the page on Wednesday. But as important as the fact that he played 21 minutes was when he played them. Mizzou led 59-53 when Pressey replaced Mike Dixon Jr. with about seven minutes left against the Huskers. From there, he set up Laurence Bowers for back-to-back baskets that pushed Missouri's lead to 11 at the final TV timeout. In the last four minutes, he had a steal and two free throws to help preserve the eight-point win.

"And so the experience factor continues," Anderson said. "The only way you're gonna learn is to get out there and experience it and he did (Wednesday)."

Pressey's passing, and more importantly his experience, will come in handy as he returns to his home state for the first time as a college player. Missouri travels to College Station on Saturday to face No. 13 Texas A&M. The Aggies have beaten Anderson all four times they have faced him, including a 77-74 win at Mizzou Arena last season in which A&M used a 13-0 run to erase a 55-46 Missouri lead with 12:42 to play.

"One thing coach kind of nags on us about is never worrying about revenge," Denmon said. "But, I mean, in the back of your mind, you know."

"Last year, I thought they took it to the glass on us," Anderson said of the Aggies' 44-26 rebounding advantage. "The games that they've won, they really just physically kind of pounded us a little bit. Last year, we had an opportunity, we just didn't close the deal. Good ball club."

The Aggies are 2-and-0 in league play. Missouri looks to create a logjam in the top half of the league standings with a win. The Tigers and A&M will tip off shortly after noon on Saturday on ESPN2.

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