Wednesday, February 20, 2013 1:18 am
No. 5 Florida falters against Missouri
The Associated Press
The fifth-ranked Gators lead most of the game and held a 13-point advantage in the second half before the Tigers rallied for the win.
Trailing by three, Florida had one last chance, but Mike Rosario's 3-pointer from the corner missed and Missouri walked away with the 63-60 victory Tuesday night.
Rosario finished with 14 points and Florida led for more than 30 consecutive minutes before the Tigers' Phil Pressey gave his team its first lead of the night with a three-point play with 2:51 remaining.
Coach Billy Donovan thought Rosario had a good look, unlike Kenny Boynton's 3-point attempt with Florida down a point and about a minute to go.
"No, did not want that at all," Donovan said. "I would have liked to have had some action driven to the basket. When you're down one, you at least want to create some penetration."
Pressey added 10 assists, seven points, six rebounds and three steals for Missouri (19-7, 8-5 SEC). Pressey, whose wild play has contributed to the Tigers 1-5 road record, was conscious about distributing the ball instead of doing it all himself and didn't take a shot the first half.
"I feel like I can affect the game without shooting as much," Pressey said. "They haven't been harping on me about not shooting."
Pressey had 10 turnovers and two points with six assists the first meeting.
"The guy I was really impressed with was Pressey, because I thought he was, at our place, crazy," Donovan said. "I really thought he did a terrific job of running his team."
Laurence Bowers played his best game of the season with 17 points and 10 rebounds, plus the go-ahead shot with 1:15 to play, helping the Tigers erase a 13-point deficit midway through the second half.
Bowers missed five games with a strained right knee at the start of conference play. Before Tuesday, he hadn't been quite the same player in six games back and missed nine of 10 shots in a two-point loss at Arkansas on Saturday.
He played most of the final five minutes with four fouls.
"I just needed to play with nothing on my mind, just worrying about defense and rebounding," Bowers said. "I shot a few shots, but I promise you my approach was on the defensive end. And it just paid off."
The Gators had won 13 of 14 and led 49-36 with 10:51 left, then hurt themselves at the foul line.
Florida missed five straight free throws in the second half, three times on the front end of one-and-ones. The slump ended when Rosario hit the second of two with 5:10 to go for a 54-50 lead.
The Gators made six of 12 foul shots overall. Missouri was 12 of 15.
"I haven't seen it in a while from my team, but you know, you have games like this," Boynton said. "Honestly, we had possessions where we could have overcome it."
The Tigers improved to 15-0 at home this season. They are 30-1 the last two seasons under coach Frank Haith and beat their first ranked opponent while out of the Top 25 since knocking off No. 15 Texas in 2010.
"The thing we did, we took it one possession at a time," Haith said. "When you get down 13, there's not a 13-point shot and I thought our guys did a great job of understanding that."
Haith said after the game he had received a "notice of allegation" from the NCAA and didn't seem worried.
"Contrary to what was reported, there was no unethical conduct in my notice," Haith said. "And it is just an allegation, so we get a chance to defend ourselves."
Keion Bell came up with the ball after it was tipped around following Boynton's 3-point miss and made two free throws with 3.1 seconds left.
Bowers' jumper from the key put Missouri up for good at 61-60 with 1:15 to go. Pressey's three-point play with 2:51 to go gave Missouri its first lead at 59-57. Scottie Wilkekin's 3 put Florida back up with about 1 1/2 minutes to go.
Pressey opened the second half with his first two points on free throws after getting fouled on a drive, and made his first shot from the wing with just over 14 minutes to go.
Pressey is just 1 for 23 on 3-pointers on the road in conference play, 10 for 26 at home.
Two dazzling assists by Pressey, the second wrapping around a defender to set up Bowers' dunk, capped a 12-0 run that cut Florida's lead to 49-48 with 8:02 to go.
Florida, averaging an SEC-leading 10 3-pointers in conference play, was 4 for 6 the first 7 1/2 minutes while grabbing an 18-6 lead. The Gators made just one of their last 11 3-point attempts of the half, going scoreless the final 4:39 while Missouri ended with an 8-0 run to cut the deficit to 29-26.