Tigers show resolve to get school’s first win in Bud Walton Arena
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — With Missouri precariously positioned in both the SEC standings and in terms of the team’s upcoming schedule, Bud Walton Arena may have been the last place Frank Haith wanted his team to play Tuesday night.
Missouri was in the middle of the pack and had lost all six games in the arena dating back to its open in 1993. Haith’s team was shaking off back-to-back road losses, including one to undermanned Vanderbilt in Nashville. But Jabari Brown and Earnest Ross each scored 24 points and both converted crucial free throws to clinch a 75-71 win over Arkansas and former head coach Mike Anderson.
There were multiple stretches in the game where the Tigers looked like they may have made easy work of the Razorbacks. Ross flushed a dunk off a Jordan Clarkson steal to extend the Tigers’ lead to 33-23 with five minutes to play in the first half.
Arkansas consistently answered with the three-point shot in the first-half and Michael Qualls’ third successful shot from long-range pulled his team back to within four at 33-29. The teams were only separated by two at the half, 36-34.
After playing pretty evenly in the first 10 minutes of the second-half, Ross and Brown combined for a trio of three-pointers on consecutive possessions to give Missouri another 10-point lead at 56-46. But the Hogs ratcheted up the defensive pressure and Missouri wouldn’t make another shot from the field for seven minutes.
Arkansas went on an 8-2 run to pull even at 58 before the Tigers were shaken from its shooting slumber by a pair of Brown jumpers. Then with the game tied at 64, Ross hit a three-pointer followed by two key free-throws to give the Tigers a lead it would not relinquish with under a minute to play.
Johnathan Williams III struggled with his shot, but played an important role in picking up 12 rebounds. Post-mate Ryan Rosburg nearly turned in a double-double with eight points and nine rebounds. The Tigers outrebounded Arkansas by a team margin of 42-26.
The Tigers’ win moves its record to 16-4 with a 4-3 mark in SEC play, currently a half-game behind fourth-place Georgia. The team returns to Columbia to face an 11th ranked Kentucky Wildcats squad that lost at LSU on Tuesday night, 87-82. Tipoff is at 12 p.m. local time.
The schedule after that takes the Tigers on the road to play Florida and Ole Miss in back-to-back games before another meeting with Arkansas in Columbia on February 13.