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January 19, 2013

Notebook: Tigers trounced



GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Frank Haith felt the game slip from his control before the first television timeout.

Three minutes and 14 seconds into the game, his No. 17 Missouri Tigers trailed 11-0 and a sold-out O'Connell Center was rocking. They wouldn't come within single digits of No. 10 Florida again. Their game had been taken away. The eventual result, an 83-52 Florida victory.

"I just didn't feel good about our energy and that's disappointing when you have a game like this," Haith said. "Playing a high-level team you have a great opportunity and I don't think we took advantage of our opportunity."

With redshirt senior forward Laurence Bowers out, Missouri's offense was all about star point guard Phil Pressey. From the start, Haith felt like Pressey put too much of the game on his shoulders and tried to force plays.

Florida's defense, something Missouri had talked to great lengths about the two previous days, suffocated the Tigers early with a full-court press and forced three steals in the game's first five minutes.

"As a team, we underestimated the amount of pressure that their full-court press would put on us," redshirt senior guard Keion Bell said. "Although the coaching staff put it in our brain throughout the whole week, we just didn't take it to heart the things they were saying about Florida's pressure. We just weren't ready."

Haith disagreed with Bell's statement and said the Tigers knew exactly how good Florida's pressure was.

Pressey was especially affected by the pressure early. By the end of the game, his turnovers (10) outnumbered his assists (six) and he was 1-of-7 from the field for two points, the lowest total of any Tiger starter.

Gators center Patric Young said he could sense frustration from Missouri when the Tigers realized their offense, which revolves around Pressey, wasn't going to work.

"Being able to hold him and make him turn the ball over, he is their offense," Young said. "Keeping him from doing what he does best, which is splitting the pick-and-roll coverages and all that, it just really messed up their whole offense and they weren't able to do anything."

Bell injured : A rare bright spot on the day for the Tigers, Bell suffered an ankle injury in the second half when his feet got tangled up with Florida guard Mike Rosario on a play where Rosario was driving the baseline.

"It was just a typical ankle sprain," Bell said. "It was just too sore to really go back into the game."

Erratic offensively: Sophomore guard Jabari Brown led the Tigers in points but it was hardly because of efficiency. Brown's 16 points were part of a 5-of-18 shooting day, including 4-of-11 from beyond the arc.

Only Pressey had more turnovers than Brown's four.


"They played good defense on us, rotated well," Brown said. "We just didn't execute well enough."

Frustration boils over: Plenty of Missouri players were noticeably irritated by the outing throughout the game but none more than freshman forward Stefan Jankovic.

Seeing extended minutes with Bowers out, Jankovic was benched midway through the second half after he threw an elbow at Young following a loose-ball tussle with Erik Murphy.


After the game, Jankovic got in a verbal spat with a heckling UF student and signaled for the fan to come down to the court. He was escorted off by a Florida employee but not before a cup was thrown at him.

That was emblematic of Missouri's first ever meeting with Florida.

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