Columbia, MO – Phil Pressey scored a game-high 26 points and added five assists as No. 12 Missouri held off Bucknell for a 66-64 win.
Laurence Bowers scored 16 points and pulled down eight rebounds while Alex Oriakhi added nine points and seven boards for the Tigers (11-2), who bounced back from their overtime loss to UCLA on Dec. 28.
"Obviously this was a great win for us," said Missouri head coach Frank Haith. "We beat a really good Bucknell team; well coached, just position defense. The first half we were impatient a little bit on both ends of the court."
Mike Muscala scored 25 points with 14 rebounds and Cameron Ayers gave 13 points and seven boards for the Bison (13-3), who had a two-game winning streak broken.
"We are really disappointed. I thought we played well, I thought we really executed the game plan, I felt we really competed," said Bucknell head coach Dave Paulsen. "But what we told our guys in the locker room after the game is this veteran group that has played in a lot of games, has come close a lot of times and we need to find a way to summon a little bit more to come through at the end to win a game like this."
Missouri trailed by four points to start the second half, but quickly took the lead when Stefan Jankovic hit a 3-pointer and followed that with a dunk.
The game stayed close until Bucknell opened a four-point lead on a Bryson Johnson 3-pointer with 5 1/2 minutes to play, but Bowers and Pressey followed with buckets to tie the contest.
Joe Willman then made a bucket and Pressey followed with two free throws. After Muscala turned the ball over, Pressey missed a pair of shots but grabbed the offensive board both times and eventually drained a 3-pointer for a 60-57 lead with under three minutes to play.
After an exchange of baskets, Muscala made a layup with 40.7 seconds left and was fouled on the shot, but he missed the free throw and Keion Bell followed with a basket at the other end for a 64-61 score with 33.2 left.
Willman missed his chance, but grabbed the board and gave it to Muscala for a layup with 13 seconds showing. After Pressey missed a free throw, Bucknell had a chance to tie, but Muscala received a pass with a foot out of bounds and Earnest Ross hit both of his attempts from the line with three seconds left to seal the win.
The first half was played tight, but the Bison took the lead for good on an Ayers 3-pointer with 9 1/2 minutes to play in the first half.
Bucknell's lead reached as high as five points before the team took a 28-24 advantage into the break.
Missouri starts conference play on Tuesday when it will host Alabama ... Bucknell begins conference action next Saturday when it hosts Army ... This was the first meeting between these two schools ... Missouri shot 42.9 percent while Bucknell made 41.9 percent of its shots.