Story by Michael Losch
Photos by Cody Mroczka
Missouri guard Jordan Clarkson (5) drives past Arkansas defender Bobby Portis (10). Clarkson led the Tigers with 27 points and four assists.
COLUMBIA – Jabari Brown knew he needed to make a play.
The junior guard had the ball in his hands with his team down by one on the verge of their fourth straight loss and NCAA tournament aspirations hanging in the balance. He drove into the lane and made a shot with 12.2 seconds left that gave Missouri an 86-85 win at Mizzou Arena on Thursday night.
“I didn’t want to settle for a jumper,” Brown said. “I wanted to get a good shot going to the basket.”
If the same situation came up last year, Missouri coach Frank Haith might have come up with a different play to get the win.
“He could not have made that shot last year. He was a catch and shoot guy,” Haith said. “The play gave good spacing for Jabari to make the play one-on-one and it was pretty good execution.”
Missouri guard Jordan Clarkson led the Tigers with 27 points and Brown added 25. Despite combining for 52 of Missouri’s points, the Tigers escaped by making free throws. Missouri made 23 straight to tie a single-game school record and finished the game 34 of 38 behind the line.
Missouri guard Wes Clark (1) attempts a free throw in the first half against Arkansas on Thursday, February 13, at Mizzou Arena. The Tigers made their first 23 free throw attempts, which tied a school record.
Missouri guard Jordan Clarkson (5) drives past Arkansas defenders Bobby Portis (10) and Rashad Madden (00) for a layup. Clarkson finished with more than 20 points for the 13th time this season.
Missouri guards Earnest Ross (33) and Jordan Clarkson (5) prepare for a rebound in the second half against Arkansas. Ross finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds.
Missouri coach Frank Haith crouches to get a better view of the action against Arkansas. Haith and the Tigers improved to 17-7 overall and 5-6 in the Southeastern Conference following the win.
Missouri guard Jabari Brown (32) attempts a jump shot in the first half against Arkansas. Brown finished with 25 points and has scored in double digits in all 24 games.
Missouri found itself down 26-22 with 9:53 left to go in the first half before an 8-0 run gave the Tigers a four-point lead. Trailing again by one at the 5:50 mark, Brown made a run of his own scoring seven straight, including Missouri’s first 3-pointer of the game. Brown scored 16 of his 25 in the first half and Missouri held a 48-42 advantage at halftime.
In the second half, Missouri and Arkansas went back and forth until Missouri started to pull away with the help of freshman guard Wes Clark who made a contested 3-pointer. The Tigers led 81-73 with 4:11 remaining, but a 10-0 run late gave Arkansas an 85-83 advantage with 1:14 left in the game.
“That’s the way Arkansas wants you to play,” Haith said. “They try to speed you up and we didn’t have good composure. I’m proud of our team to come back and make plays to win the game.”
After Brown’s shot gave Missouri a one-point lead, the Razorbacks went to guard Rashad Madden, but his shot rimmed out as time expired. Madden led the Razorbacks with 17 points, narrowly missing the last bucket that would give his team the victory.
“We wanted to draw a foul or get to the basket. The ball just didn’t bounce our way,” Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said. “Give credit to Missouri. They made one more play than we did. Brown made a play, that’s what good players do.”
Arkansas (15-9, 4-7) is just 1-5 on the road this season and 3-23 under Anderson’s tenure. The Razorbacks came into Mizzou Arena on a 2-game win streak that included a game-winning shot in their last contest over Auburn. This time, they found themselves on the losing end.
“It was tough losing at the end like that,” Arkansas forward Alandise Harris said. “We didn’t get that one stop at the end or make a play when we needed it.”
Missouri (17-7, 5-6) won for the first time since a visit to Arkansas on January 28th. The Tigers will need to keep winning to keep their NCAA tournament hopes alive.
“We’re going in the right direction,” Brown said. “We got seven games and we’ll try to get all seven of them. We just have to take it one game at a time.”
Missouri will be hoping to stay in the win column when Tennessee visits Mizzou Arena on Saturday.