The battle between Colorado State and Missouri will be decided by the showdown at point guard between Dorian Green and Phil Pressey.
That's how Colorado State Coach Larry Eustachy sees Thursday night's NCAA game in Rupp Arena.
"Pressey is their key and Dorian is our key," he said. "It starts with the quarterback."
Green, a 6-foot-2 senior, is averaging 12.8 points and 3.8 assists for Colorado State.
"When Dorian plays well, we win. When he doesn't, we struggle," Eustachy said.
Green has been slowed by a bad ankle the last couple of weeks, but Eustachy said, "This is a chance for him to be a hero and play hurt."
Green will be pressed in the matchup with the speedy Pressey, a 5-11 junior who's averaging 11.6 points and 7.1 assists.
"Obviously, (Missouri) has a great collection of players and Frank (Haith) is a great coach, but it starts with (Pressey)," Eustachy said. "He's the key, and we have to stay in front of him."
Haith appreciates what Green does for the Rams.
"Dorian is outstanding," Haith said. "He plays with such great intelligence and with great pace, and he can shoot the ball."
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Pressey has been terrific most of the time for Missouri, but he also has had shaky moments late in games that have cost his team. One came last month in Rupp Arena in an overtime loss to Kentucky.
Haith said the good outweighs the bad with Pressey.
"Phil's a game-changer. It's a fine line as a coach how you coach a guy like that.
"I want him still to be confident in what he does and how he plays. That said, it's also about being under control and understanding how defenses are playing you.
"Trust me, I want to play with Phil Pressey because he can make plays, and I feel confident he's going to have those moments when he makes plays and helps us win games."
While both teams have catalysts at the point, they also have guys who bang the boards.
Colorado State boasts the best rebounding duo in the nation in 6-10 Colton Iverson (9.8 rpg) and 6-5 Pierce Hornung (9.2 rpg). Missouri will counter with 6-9 Alex Oriakhi (8.6 rpg) and 6-8 Laurence Bowers (6.2 rpg).
Seed: No. 8 in Midwest Regional
Coach: Larry Eustachy, first year with Rams. Previously took Southern Miss (2012), Iowa State (2000, '01) and Utah State (1998) to the NCAA Tournament.
Record against NCAA field: 4-7.
How they got here: At-large bid after school-record 25 wins and runner-up finish in Mountain West.
NCAA history: Colorado State is 3-10 in nine previous NCAA Tournaments.
Not so 'Yummy': Last year, Colorado State lost its NCAA opener to Murray State in the Yum Center in Louisville. "That was pretty disappointing," senior guard Wes Eikmeier said. "Leaving that tournament, we were pretty determined, and that's carried us most of this year. We don't want to go out the way we did last year."
What Colorado State has to do to advance: The Rams must contain Missouri point guard Phil Pressey and win the battle of the boards.
Seed: No. 9 in Midwest Regional
Coach: Frank Haith, second year (53-15). Previously took Miami (2008) to the NCAA Tournament.
Record against NCAA field: 4-5
How they got here: At-large bid after tying for fifth place in SEC.
NCAA history: The Tigers are 22-25 in 26 previous NCAA Tournament appearances. Reached Elite Eight four times.
Champ in residence: Alex Oriakhi, who played for Connecticut's 2011 NCAA champs, sees similarities between that team and these Tigers "in the team chemistry and the talent we have."
What Missouri has to do to advance: The Tigers must hold their own on the boards and have Pressey running at peak efficiency.
Mike Fields: (859) 231-3337. Twitter: @MikeFieldsNotes. Blog: Fieldsnotes.bloginky.com.