By Michael Losch
Missouri accomplished something it had never done before in its 75-71 victory over Arkansas Tuesday night. The Tigers won their first game in program history at Bud Walton Arena, where they were winless in six attempts.
Jabari Brown scored 19 of his 24 points in the second-half for Missouri and Earnest Ross equaled his teammate with 24 points of his own. Brown continues to be a big-time scorer for Missouri, scoring 20 or more points in his last five games, but coach Frank Haith’s praise went to more than just Brown.
“It was a great team effort,” Haith said. “Particularly against a team like this where they really get after you. I thought we showed great toughness and competed for 40 minutes.”
Missouri led 10-3 early in the game as Arkansas managed to make only one of its first nine shots. Arkansas fought back with its fast-paced tempo, forcing 10 of Missouri’s 19 turnovers in the first half and the Tigers only led 36-34 at the break.
Neither team seemed to have much of an advantage in the second half until Missouri broke out an 11-0 run, highlighted by back-to back 3-pointers from Brown and the Tiger led 56-46 with 9:30 left to go.
Ky Madden led the Razorbacks with 20 points and tied the game at 64 on a three-point play late. Missouri countered on their next possession, grabbing one of its 16 offensive rebounds and guard Jordan Clarkson found Ross for a 3-pointer with under a minute left.
Missouri closed out the win on a 9-0 run by making free throws. The Tigers made all 16 of their free throws in the second half.
“Let’s give them credit,” said Arkansas coach Mike Anderson, who coached the Tigers from 2006 to 2011. “I thought they came in and did a good job. You shoot 81 (percent) from the free throw line, you’re going to win. Those are things you have to do on the road.”
Arkansas had won 25 of their last 26 at home and lost for just the second time this season at Bud Walton Arena. The Razorbacks are now 45-6 under Anderson on their home floor.
The Tigers (16-4, 4-3 Southeastern Conference) earned a much-needed win for their NCAA Tournament hopes and are off to a good start in a tough stretch of SEC games. Missouri will face the No. 11 Kentucky Wildcats at Mizzou Arena on Saturday at noon.