Phil Pressey

Missouri's Marcus Denmon, right, dunks the ball over Texas' J'Covan Brown, left, during the second half. Brown had a game-high 34 points but it wasn't enough to overcome the power of Missouri.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

J'Covan Brown dazzled individually for the Longhorns, but Missouri collectively outplayed Texas and the hot-shooting Tigers continued UT's road woes.
 
Brown put on an offensive display and poured in 34 points, but Texas couldn't overcome a 13-point halftime deficit and Mizzou cruised down the stretch to win, 84-73, on Saturday afternoon at Mizzou Arena.
 
"I wanted to be aggressive, even when it wasn't there for me," said Brown, who was 6 of 7 from beyond the arc. "I wasn't worrying about carrying the team, when Coach called my number I made big shots."
 
But Brown's clutch buckets weren't enough to overcome a slow start as UT fell to 1-5 away from home.
 
Texas (12-5; 2-2 Big 12) fought back in the second half as Missouri (16-1; 3-1) cooled off, and the Brown cut the Tigers' lead to five, 62-57, with a pair of free throws with 9:40 left. Then, Mizzou point guard Phil Pressey took over.
 
Pressey drilled a three to put MU up by eight, and on the Tigers' next possession he drew a foul on Brown. On that play, though, Brown busted his upper lip and had to leave the game. Pressey made both free throws and then stole an errant pass for a fast break dunk that ignited the crowd and gave Mizzou a commanding lead, 69-57.
 
The Longhorns offense stalled with Brown on the bench and a close game quickly turned back into an uphill climb.
 
"Next thing I know I turned around and Pressey got a dunk and then they were up by double figures," Brown said. "We can’t make those mistakes that we made. We just have to keep being aggressive even when Coach subs me out."
 
The decisive two-minute stretch ended any hopes of a Longhorns comeback.
 
"We stuck around and could have got the job done if we played smarter," said point guard Myck Kabongo, who had 12 points and 10 assists against four turnovers. "Down five and we turn it over, have to play smarter than we did. It's just being aware."
 
Texas turned the ball over 14 times, leading to 20 points for MU. The Longhorns only scored two points off nine Tigers' turnovers. Poor execution hampered Texas against one of the premier offenses in the Big 12.
 
"Our problem is on the offensive end," said UT coach Rick Barnes. "We don't do the things we need to do to give ourselves a chance to be the team we can be."
 
Missouri didn’t have any such problems to begin the game. MU started hot and the Tigers took advantage of open looks from deep against the Texas zone, connecting on 8 of 11 three-pointers in the first half.
 
"They were just knocking down open shots with hands in their face," Brown said. "And a couple times we didn't get back in transition and they raised up and made a 3. They made big shots."
 
Jonathan Holmes added 10 points for Texas, who had three players in double figures. Mizzou, though, had a more balanced scoring effort and had four players with at least 14 points, led by Ricardo Ratliffe's 21.
 
Mizzou coach Frank Haith assisted under Barnes from 2002-04 and helped bring Lamarcus Aldridge and T.J. Ford to Austin. Barnes and Haith previously met as foes in 2008, when Texas beat Miami, 75-72, in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
 
Texas entered the game allowing an average of 50 points in their last two, but UT allowed MU to breach that mark with 17:31 to play.

Missouri head coach Mike Anderson’s teams are known for playing the fastest 40 minutes in basketball.

His hard-nosed, in-your-face philosophy has followed Anderson wherever he’s gone — from Arkansas down to Alabama and back up to Missouri. Anderson’s squads, stocked with versatile and rangy athletes year after year, always seem to be moving a step quicker than the opposition.

Every coach knows what to expect when preparing for an Anderson-coached team: full-court pressure from start to finish.

But this year’s Tigers outfit has been equally effective on the offensive end.

Missouri is sixth in the nation in both points per game (85) and assists per game (18). But the success of the offense isn’t stopping Anderson from continuing to instill a tough, defensive mindset. He says the Tigers are at their best when they are focused defensively.

“Our defense has picked up, earlier in the year we were just trying to outscore people,” Anderson said. “I’ve been on these guys to play athletic. It’s amazing sometimes how that can be contagious.”

Anderson learned from the best while assisting Nolan Richardson at Arkansas in the late ’80s and throughout the ’90s. Anderson has taken Richardson’s “40 minutes of hell” philosophy and crafted his own with great success.

During his time at Alabama-Birmingham, Anderson’s pesky defenders propelled the Blazers to the NCAA tournament for three straight years. And he hasn’t dropped off since moving to Missouri, winning more games in his first four years than any coach in school history.

His Tigers are eager to return to Big 12 Championship form after winning the conference and reaching the Elite Eight in 2009. No. 11 Missouri might just get the chance, thanks to key contributions from a pair of rookies.
“We’ve got more guys ready to play now than we had earlier in the year,” Anderson said.

Freshman point guard Phil Pressey returned from a broken hand in time for the Tigers’ Big 12 opener and has breathed life to their backcourt. Pressey, who played high school ball in Dallas, has shown flashes of greatness this season, finding open teammates for easy buckets — part of the reason Missouri is second in the conference in assists.

“He has a great gift for making other people look pretty good,” Anderson said.

But while the broken hand limited his play early on — he missed four games — Pressey is finding a groove in conference play.

“Not many guys can do the things he’s doing at this level after coming off of an injury,” Anderson said.

But the neophyte hasn’t made all the adjustments needed to be an elite college player, at least not yet. He’ll get an opportunity to showcase his talent against Texas freshman point guard Cory Joseph when the two ranked teams collide Saturday.

While Pressey has brought depth to the guard position, junior college transfer Ricardo Ratliffe has brought a physical presence to Missouri’s frontcourt. The Tigers’ leading rebounder, Ratliffe is second on the team with 1.7 blocks per game.

“He was the big dog at Central Florida and he came in with great accolades but this is a new level here,” Anderson said. “Early on he was trying to fit in, but that adjustment period is over for him.”

If Anderson can get his team to play his type of defense, it could be a long weekend for Texas fans.