The shots weren’t falling for Missouri point guard Phil Pressey against Illinois on Saturday.
His 3-for-19 night, including whiffing on all four 3-point attempts, would suggest he was the reason the Tigers ever trailed before pulling out an 82-73 victory in the “Braggin’ Rights” game.
But despite Pressey’s failure to find his shooting touch, he played 39 minutes.
That’s because coach Frank Haith has so much faith in him. And he should.
Pressey could make anyone a believer after watching him deliver in other ways against Illinois.
He had 11 assists and seven rebounds. His defense helped hold guard Brandon Paul to 5-of-18 shooting.
And his drives to the basket in the closing minutes were critical. He finished with 12 points, making 6 of 6 free throws.
“I was just trying to stay in attack mode,” Pressey said.
Added Haith: “He wasn’t making shots, but he was controlling the game.”
On a team full of transfers, the junior’s leadership is vital. He averages 12.3 points and 6.3 assists for the 10-1 Tigers.
“He’s the best point guard in the nation,” forward Laurence Bowers said.
Power in numbers: Who says you need a star?
Michigan definitely has a leading man in guard Trey Burke, who is averaging 17.4 points.
But the Wolverines have relied on balance to earn a No. 2 ranking and 12-0 record.
Guard Tim Hardaway Jr. scores 15.8 points per game, guard Nik Stauskas 13.4 and forward Glenn Robinson III 11.4. Nearly every game, a different Wolverine leads the way.
Against Eastern Michigan, freshman forward Mitch McGary recorded his first double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Team of the week: Kansas State. Bruce Weber’s Wildcats lost to Michigan and Gonzaga but finally earned their signature victory by taking down Florida behind 17 points from Will Spradling.
Player of the week: Khalif Wyatt, Temple. The senior guard scored a career-high 33 points and went 15 for 15 from the free-throw line in a victory against then-No. 3 Syracuse in New York.
Games to watch
Today: San Diego State vs. Arizona. The Wildcats will try to remain unbeaten against the talented Aztecs in the final of the Diamond Head Classic. Arizona just can’t afford 15 turnovers, as it averages.
Friday: Baylor at Gonzaga. The Bears’ inside toughness has been questioned. If they can find some answers, they’ll have another upset under their belts like the one they pulled off against Kentucky.
Saturday: Kentucky at Louisville. The Cardinals have the upper hand this season in the age-old rivalry, but the Wildcats can’t be counted out.