COLUMBIA (KMOX) – College basketball has been wild and unpredictable for almost every team in the league this season. The story has been no different for the Missouri Tigers, who lost yet another road game in Fayetteville, Arkansas just a few days before their meeting with Florida on Tuesday.
The Tigers suffered a loss in their previous meeting with the Gators in Gainesville. This was Mizzou’s chance to return the favor.
Missouri did just that.
In a defensive battle filled with ups and downs for both teams, Coach Frank Haith’s squad made the plays they needed to in order to upset 5th ranked Florida. The final score of the game was 63-60. That 3 point difference was the Tigers’ biggest lead of the night; and it came with only 3 seconds remaining in the 2nd half.
Mizzou struggled throughout the game, trailing by as many as 13 points with 10:51 left in the game. They also had trouble maintaining possession, turning the ball over 19 times. Yet the Tigers showed toughness by climbing back into the game. Coach Haith has been looking for this exact brand of competitiveness in road games all season long.
It must have helped that the atmosphere at Mizzou Arena was as energetic as ever. The Tigers seemed to feed off of the sellout crowd, all dressed in black for the “blackout” game. While Missouri’s positive performance could be attributed to many things, the fans certainly seem to give this team that extra push they need in tight games.
When asked about the crowd’s impact, Coach Haith said, “Tonight’s energy was incredible and I thought it helped will our guys to win.”
Senior Laurence Bowers had one of his best performances since injuring his knee earlier in the season, scoring 17 points and getting 10 rebounds. And even though Phil Pressey had 5 turnovers, he also picked up 10 assists, 3 steals, and 6 rebounds.
Pressey spoke about how each member of the team played an important role, even the players on the bench, “deep down inside, it took everybody for us to win that game.”
Following the game, Coach Haith put the Tigers’ victory into perspective, “Florida is a tremendous team. I think they’re one of the best teams in the country, if not the best team in the country. This is a heck of a win for us.”