Tonight’s 97-94 overtime win for UCLA over #7 Missouri will certainly be viewed as the biggest win as the biggest win for the Bruins this season thus far, rightfully so. And it could very well be the turning point that propels this UCLA squad to the great season that students, fans and media alike expected prior to the season. The heroics of Shabazz Muhammad and the phenomenal performances by the Wear twins will certainly be remembered from this win, but the biggest star of the night was Missouri’s Phil Pressey.
Widely regarded as one of the top point guards in the nations and a preseason 1st team All-SEC pick, Pressey did nothing to raise any doubts whatsoever tonight. Pressey penetrated the Bruin defense at will tonight, either dishing to open teammates on the wings or driving to the hoop for a basket whenever he wanted. Pressey finished the game with 19 points and a career-high 19 assists. In fact, his previous high was 12 assists, and he was able to match that in only the 1st half of play!
Despite his relatively short stature at only 5”11, Pressey brings the lethal combination of speed and incredible court vision that make him a match-up nightmare for practically any point guard in college basketball. Pressey is averaging only 6.3 assists per game this season, which seems relatively low when one sees how he plays in person; but games like this provide little doubt that he can lead the nation in assists if he really wanted to focus even more on that.
Larry Drew II, who came in averaging 8.5 assists per game (2nd in nation), certainly did not disappoint either. Drew Finished with 8 points and 10 assists, compared with only 3 turnovers, raising his assist to turnover ratio to 113-22 on the season, better than 5 to 1. Drew made the right decisions offensively, driving to the hoop when he needed to and making the right passes at the right times throughout the night.
Yet even though Drew has excellent court vision himself, it just simply appears to the naked eye that Pressey sees the court at a whole other level. Pressey displayed the type of passing ability and awareness tonight that makes Chris Paul, Steve Nash and Rajon Rondo (to name a few) such extraordinary players in the NBA. That is of course not to say that Pressey will necessarily be a perennial NBA all-star, but as far as floor generals go in college basketball, he is as good as they come.
- Ben Caplan (Cali Swag/All About Sports)