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Saturday, November 24, 2012
Rapid Reaction: Missouri 68, VCU 65

By Jason King

NASSAU, Bahamas -- A few quick thoughts from Missouri’s 68-65 victory over VCU in the third-place game of the Battle 4 Atlantis.

Overview: College basketball is stocked with great point guards this season, and it’s way too early to say who is the best of the bunch. Just know this: Phil Pressey should at least be in the conversation.

The Missouri junior made two huge plays down the stretch to propel his squad to a win over a vastly underrated VCU squad here in the Bahamas.

The first big play came after VCU’s Briante Weber swished a 3-pointer that gave the Rams a 65-63 lead with 1 minute, 31 seconds remaining. Pressey responded on the Tigers’ ensuing possession by draining a 3-pointer of his own that put Missouri back up 66-65.

Moments later, as the final seconds of the shot clock ticked away, a heavily defended Pressey scored on a hanging jumper from about 12 feet away from the basket to make it 68-65 with 12.2 seconds left.

VCU’s Troy Daniels missed a 3 on the Rams' final possession, and Missouri hung on for the win.

Turning point: Pressey’s final two shots were the daggers. Missouri led by nine points early in the second half, but -- for the most part -- it was a back-and-forth game all the way until the end.

Star of the game: Pressey provided the heroics during crunch time, but Laurence Bowers (14 points, 11 rebounds) and Negus Webster-Chan (12 points) also were huge for the Tigers. Juvonte Reddic and Treveon Graham each scored 12 points for VCU.

Key stat: Missouri committed 13 turnovers against VCU, a modest number considering the Rams are known for their full-court, pressure defense. And remember, the Tigers are playing without suspended starter Michael Dixon, one of the country’s top guards. His replacement, Webster-Chan, is only a freshman.

Other observations: The fact that VCU posted a 1-2 record in the Battle 4 Atlantis speaks to the quality of the tournament. The Rams are a top-25-caliber squad.

Up next: Missouri hosts Appalachian State on Dec. 1. VCU’s next game is a home tilt with Stetson on Wednesday.