Missouri ready for SEC opener against Alabama


Missouri ready for SEC opener against Alabama

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) Missouri is so well-tested that its first-ever SEC game should not cause any anxiety.

A 2-point decision over Bucknell, an overtime loss at UCLA and a neutral-site victory over Illinois have all helped the 10th-ranked Tigers (11-2) prepare for Tuesday night's game against Alabama (8-5).

They trailed at halftime and got outrebounded for the first time all season against Bucknell on Saturday before winning their 73rd consecutive nonconference home game, a feat stretching to the 2005-06 opener. Coach Frank Haith is counting on such tests to toughen the roster now that the competition figures to step up on a consistent basis, even if the opening matchup appears a bit lopsided.

Alabama had lost five of six overall before beating Oakland 65-45 Saturday to snap a three-game home losing streak.

``I love where we're at. I love our team; I love our attitude and our toughness,'' Haith said. ``You hear these guys talk about toughness and it is something that we emphasize.''

The unquestioned leader has been the lone returning starter.

Junior point guard Phil Pressey had a career-high 26 points against Bucknell after getting 19 points and a school-record 19 assists at UCLA. Pressey has 35 assists the last three games and has 433 for his career, tied for third on the school career list with Larry Drew, a former NBA star and the current Atlanta Hawks coach. Pressey is 64 assists shy of Anthony Peeler's school record.

``Watching all the tape, the DVDs of him playing, if I didn't have to prepare to play against him, it would have been a treat,'' Bucknell coach Dave Paulsen said. ``He's the best passing point guard that I've coached against since I've been at Bucknell.''

Missouri had just two turnovers in the second half, and eight overall.

Laurence Bowers, back all the way from knee surgery that sidelined him all season, also had a strong game with 16 points and eight rebounds. Bowers has scored in double figures eight straight games and has 56 points with 27 rebounds the last three.

``Those three games were a good challenge for us. I thought we handled them well,'' Bowers said. ``We just have to continue to get better.''

After the Bucknell game, Haith reminded players of that.

``You get in league play, it's a little different,'' Haith said. ``Kentucky, Alabama, you see some young teams I think that will start to play better.

``And that's my focus in telling our team that we've got to be ready to play every time we lace them up.''

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It's crazy to think what has happened since the RG3 and Andrew Luck draft in 2012


It's crazy to think what has happened since the RG3 and Andrew Luck draft in 2012

It wasn't that long ago when Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III intended to dominate the NFL. It might seem crazy now, but it wasn't that long ago. 

In 2012, Indianapolis drafted Luck first overall to take over for the then-injured Peyton Manning. It was a tall order, but Luck seemed up to the challenge. Immediately after Luck, the Redskins selected Griffin. His challenge wasn't replacing a legend like Manning, but rather Washington asked RG3 to rescue a franchise stuck in a constant vortex of turmoil. Somehow, even as a rookie, Griffin seemed up for that challenge too. 

Both rookies started right away, and while there were some hiccups, both were great. 

  • In 16 games, Luck completed 54 percent of his passes for 4,300 yards with 23 TDs and 18 INTs while the Colts went 11-5 and returned to the playoffs. 
  • In 15 games, Griffin completed 65 percent of his passes for 3,200 yards with 20 TDs and 5 INTs while the Redskins went 10-6 and returned to the playoffs. Griffin also rushed for another 800 yards and seven TDs. 

The hype was so real around both young quarterbacks that a preseason matchup between the Colts and Redskins got promoted as a showdown. A preseason game. 

The truth was both Luck and RG3 seemed like can't-miss prospects. Cannot miss. Luck had the pocket pedigree every QB coach dreams of. Griffin had the arm and athleticism that was going to turn the NFL upside down. 

For a brief time, it worked. 

There were no Super Bowls, no real triumphs, but in 2012, both guys lived up the hype. 

Things quickly deteriorated for Griffin, both through injury and infighting. Who's to blame in the demise of the RG3/Mike/Kyle Shanahan relationship doesn't really matter now. That short glimpse of the perfect player in the perfect offense fell apart, like looking at a solar eclipse for just one second too long; it's beautiful right until it burns your eyes. 

Luck lasted longer in Indy, until he was betrayed by a terrible front office that refused to invest in capable offensive linemen. His body got beaten up, battered, and eventually he lost his love for the game as he was forced into a repeated cycle of rehab and recovery with only snippets of football in between.

Luck retired Saturday night. It was shocking, yet given the full context, understandable. 

Griffin is now the backup quarterback in Baltimore, playing behind a young athlete with a gifted arm that might change the QB position forever in Lamar Jackson. 

Long gone are the days of stadiums chanting RG3. And now, long gone are the days of Luck being the next great pocket passer. 

That doesn't mean it never happened, but in the NFL as in life, there is no such thing as a sure thing. 


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Wizards’ Isaiah Thomas rips analyst over ‘most millennial thing ever’ Andrew Luck tweet

Wizards’ Isaiah Thomas rips analyst over ‘most millennial thing ever’ Andrew Luck tweet

After Andrew Luck turned the sports world upside down Saturday night when the news broke that he was suddenly retiring from the NFL, Washington Wizards point guard Isaiah Thomas went in on an analyst who called the decision “the most millennial thing ever.”

Thomas knows what it’s like to go through a long rehab process, suffering a hip injury toward the end of the 2016-17 season that forced him to undergo surgery and limited him to just 44 games over the past two years.

At just 29 years old, Luck is hanging up the cleats after a string of medical issues that have plagued him since being drafted No. 1 overall by the Indianapolis Colts in the 2012 NFL Draft.

The Colts will now be rolling with Jacoby Brissett as their starting quarterback.