One of the problems with covering basketball games as a print and digital reporter is that you don’t get to watch the television broadcast as the game unfolds, so there are often times that fans at home catch things that we don’t.
It was fairly evident that this happened again Saturday, when Missouri lost 64-62 at Tennessee. Sure, we saw Missouri lose another close game on the road, with a Phil Pressey miss — a staple of several of Missouri’s road losses this season — driving the nail in the Tigers’ coffin.
But from our vantage point along the right baseline, we could not — or at least did not — see coach Frank Haith’s reaction to Pressey’s airball, with came with 12.6 seconds left and the Tigers trailing 62-59.
Haith was clearly upset at Pressey, which was evident in this quote:
“We had a stretch there where we were scoring, getting to the rim on the quick, two-ball screen stuff or L-Bo (Laurence Bowers) was wide open on the throw back,” Haith said. “I didn’t want that shot.”
So you know what I had to do. With a blueprint mapped out for the final three minutes or so, I looked back at each of Missouri’s possessions after an 11-0 Tennessee run gave the Vols a 60-53 lead with three minutes left. And like Haith said, Missouri did, in fact, score each of its next three baskets in the paint, though only one came via the same high ball screen that was called on Pressey’s airball.TENNESSEE 60, MISSOURI 53, 3:01 LEFT
Pressey finds Bowers on the wing, who finds Keion Bell — who comes off a pretty screen at the elbow — wide open under the basket.TENNESSEE 60, MISSOURI 55, 2:32 LEFT
Pressey attacks the defender — guard Josh Richardson, who stands 6 feet 6 — off the dribble and converts a layup. You can see Bowers creeping over to Pressey’s left to set the pick, but Pressey didn’t want/need it.TENNESSEE 60, MISSOURI 57, 1:45 LEFT
Here’s a version of the double-high ball screen Haith was talking about. Bowers and Ross set two high picks, and while Bowers is picked up, Pressey finds Ross on the throwback, and he gets off a wild shot. The rebound goes out of bounds and Missouri retains possession, though the Tigers later turned it over when Richardson picked off Pressey’s inbounds pass.
Pressey finds Bowers wide open under the basket off the inbounds.TENNESSEE 62, MISSOURI 59, 0:20 LEFT
Well, here it is. Pressey corrals a rebound and races up the court. You see Bowers set a nice pick, Pressey gets a sliver of space, and he airballs a long three. It’s worth noting he is now five for 36 (13.9 percent) on three-point attempts in SEC road games, which considerably drags down his season average of 30.8 percent.
So yes, it’s clear to see why Haith was so angry with the shot. The question is: When will these late-game miscues/misdeeds stop? Expect today’s basketball media day to be an interesting one.