Missouri’s stumble Saturday no surprise

Sports Commentary

The great philosopher Dennis Green, who also dabbled as an NFL head coach, said it best.

“They are who we thought they were,” he famously bellowed after his Arizona Cardinals blew a 20-point lead to the Chicago Bears in a 2006 game.

If you thought Missouri, which has had a frustrating up and down season, turned a corner after Tuesday night’s win against Arkansas ... nope. They’re still exactly who we thought they were.

The Tigers were down 62-59 with 22 seconds left Saturday after Phil Pressey got a rebound after a Volunteer miss.

What do you do? The Tigers could try for a quick bucket, cut it to one, then foul to make the Volunteers hit their free throws.

Or play it down to about five seconds, work for an open 3 and the tie. There would still be time for a potential rebound if the shot is missed.

Or with 15 seconds left, Phil Pressey could chuck up a 3. Why not, he’s wide open.

The Tennessee coaches can evidentially read a stat sheet. Laurence Bowers, Jabari Brown and Earnest Ross are all about 38 percent shooters on 3-pointers this season.

Heading into the game, Pressey was making 31.5 percent of his 3-pointers on the season. And you can click that down a notch after Pressey made just one of his first five from beyond the arc Saturday.

The Volunteers were volunteering to let Pressey shoot No. 6. That’s why he was so open.

Well, gravity did what gravity does and the basketball on Pressey’s shot bounced to the floor without even scaring the rim. It was Tennessee’s possession.

Mike Anderson and Frank Haith have as good a chance at going on vacation together as that shot had of going in.

Timeout, Tennessee. Blowout, Haith.

One word was all Haith needed to say to Pressey as the Tigers walked to the bench. Why? Watching on television, it didn’t appear Pressey had an answer. Not that there could be one.

That one shot isn’t why Missouri lost. The Tigers led the conference in rebounding, but the Volunteers had a 45-32 edge on the boards Saturday. The defense, once again, disappeared in the second half as the Tigers saw an eightpoint lead turn into a seven-point deficit in the span of about seven minutes.

It’s been a familiar story on the road. Lost by three in overtime at UCLA, lost by three at LSU, lost by two at Texas A&M, lost in overtime at Kentucky.

One play could have turned any of those losses into victories. Plays the Tigers didn’t make.

It can take some time to sink in, but Saturday proved after 31 games, the Tigers are who we thought they were.

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