Kentucky was coming off Wednesday's 74-70 victory over Vanderbilt, earning the close victory with crisp play on both ends of the floor and two huge blocks by freshman center Willie Cauley-Stein, handling duties in the pivot since Noel's injury.
The Tigers entered the game with one of the SEC's most potent offenses and a balanced one at that, with every starter averaging in double figures. Pressey (11.8 points per game) drew most of Kentucky's attention because of his ability to distribute the ball and create turnovers along with scoring.
And while forward Bowers and center Oriakhi presented a dual inside threat, it shaped up as another matchup of guard play.
Living up to the Show-Me state motto, the Tigers quickly displayed their offensive prowess.
Three straight baskets staked Missouri to a 7-2 lead that quickly grew to 17-8 as the Tigers outhustled the young Wildcats on both ends. Pressey's steal and layup for Missouri's second basket and consecutive baseline drives by reserve guard Earnest Ross that made it 15-8 and epitomized the Tigers' athleticism.
Oriakhi followed with a layup to cap an 8-for-17 start from the field for the Tigers, compared to 4 of 14 for the Wildcats. Missouri cooled off some after that but still was able to build its biggest lead at 28-15 with 4:55 remaining in the first half.
Just as quickly, Kentucky found some poise along with some shooters and closed with a 16-7 run to trail by 35-31 at intermission.
Harrow, who scored 12 Wednesday in his return to the starting lineup, set the tone again with inside drives to score 12 in the first half. Others followed his lead and the results were 3-pointers by Mays and Poythress, whose thunderous dunk from Harrow's lob started the spurt.
Kentucky began drawing fouls as well, converting 7 of 12 from the line. The Wildcats shot 39 percent (11 of 28) for the half compared to 14 of 38 for the Tigers (37 percent).