After a slow start in his return from injury, Missouri freshman guard Phil Pressey seems to have found his shooting touch.
Pressey will try to help the 13th-ranked Tigers move above .500 in the Big 12 for the first time this season with a win over visiting Iowa State on Saturday night.
After scoring 15 points against Central Arkansas on Dec. 18, Pressey broke his right ring finger in practice two days later and missed four games. He returned for the Big 12 opener at Colorado on Jan. 8, but missed both of his shots in that 89-76 loss and was 0 for 3 in 21 minutes of a 77-69 home win over Nebraska on Jan. 12.
Since then, Pressey has made 11 of 20 shots, including 7 of 9 from 3-point range, while averaging 14.5 points.
“I don’t hope it goes in, I expect it to go in,” Pressey said. “So if I miss one I keep shooting, and if make it, it’s the same thing.”
He hit three shots from beyond the arc and scored 13 points in a 75-59 home win over Kansas State on Monday night.
“For a guy that’s been out for almost three weeks to play the way he’s played the last two games, he’s got a chance to be a special player,” coach Mike Anderson said.
The Tigers (16-3, 2-2) could use Pressey’s help against a Cyclones team that has five players averaging in double figures, led by senior guard Diante Garrett (17.9 ppg). Long Beach State and Wake Forest are the only other Division I teams with five players scoring at least 10.0 points per game.
Iowa State (14-5, 1-3) got 25 points from Garrett and 20 from Jamie Vanderbeken on Wednesday night but couldn’t stop Oklahoma State in a 96-87 overtime loss. The Cyclones hit 13 shots from 3-point range, one shy of matching its season-high 14 from its previous game - a 72-57 win over Baylor on Jan. 15.
Iowa State leads the Big 12 in 3-pointers made (177) and 3-point shooting percentage (39.1), but is allowing an average of 75.0 points in conference games after giving up 59.1 in its first 15 contests.
The Cyclones could face a test against the Big 12’s highest-scoring team, Missouri (84.9 ppg). Iowa State is also 4-35 in conference road games since winning at Missouri on Jan. 25, 2006, and 8-105 all-time against ranked opponents on the road.
The Tigers, meanwhile, are 12-0 at home this season, have won three straight there over the Cyclones and five in a row overall.
Missouri, though, needed a buzzer-beater to top Iowa State 69-67 in overtime March 2 in Ames. Tigers leading scorer Marcus Denmon (17.5 ppg), a nephew of former Cyclones star Martinez Denmon, had 16 points off the bench in that win, while Garrett had 14.
Depth could be another factor as Iowa State uses seven players in its rotation, while Missouri relies on as many as 10 in its up-tempo style. The Cyclones have three starters averaging at least 32.6 minutes, while Denmon is Missouri’s only player logging more than 30 per game.
Missouri leads the series 145-84 and holds an 82-21 edge in Columbia.