COLUMBIA, Mo. — Both teams came in with players out due to injuries, both teams have been in tailspins in league play, but Missouri was the more focused squad from the opening tip while leading most of the way and holding off late Arkansas challenges en route to an 83-79 overtime home win on Saturday in front of 11,439 fans at Mizzou Arena.
The Razorbacks (16-7, 4-6 SEC) were sloppy and sluggish from the outset, but they fought back to take leads late in regulation and early in the extra period before coming up short. They’ll travel home to Fayetteville having lost 5 of their last 7 games, including back-to-back overtime setbacks (No. 11 Auburn won, 79-76, in OT in Fayetteville on Tuesday).
Arkansas is now 4-4 in true road games, including 2-3 on the road in league play. The Hogs have lost three straight games against Mizzou in Columbia, last winning here during the 2015-16 season.
Missouri (11-12, 3-7 SEC) won for only the second time in its last seven games as the Tigers were the last team standing after six players fouled out (four from Arkansas, two from Missouri) in a game where 59 fouls were called leading to 83 free throw attempts between the two squads.
The Tigers played without injured starters Mark Smith and Jeremiah Tilmon, while the Hogs were without starter Isaiah Joe for the second consecutive game due the right knee injury that has him sidelined indefinitely.
“I thought we had really bad shot selection,” Arkansas head coach Eric Musselman said. “I didn’t think we shared the ball. Give Coach (Cuonzo) Martin and his team credit. We didn’t cut hard enough in the first half and we turned over the ball way too much. In the second half we played a little bit better with a little bit more flow.”
“But you’re not going to win a game when you put an opponent on the foul line on the road 44 times. I mean, you’re not going to win a game. We could have played the Milwaukee Bucks tonight and we couldn’t have fouled them 44 times. We’ve got to learn how to defend without fouling, and it starts with being in a defensive stance.”
Mizzou took advantage of 10 Arkansas turnovers in the first half to grab a 36-30 lead at the break, but after the Tigers used a 9-2 run to go up 54-47 with 8:49 to play in regulation the Hogs strung together an 11-1 run capped by a Jimmy Whitt, Jr., bank shot for a 58-55 Arkansas lead with 5:44 to go.
The Hogs were up by three again, 65-62, at 2:26 after junior guard Mason Jones made both of his free throws. The Tigers would answer as guard Xavier Pinson made two free throws followed by a drive-and-one conversion by wing Javon Pickett at 1:19 that gave Mizzou a 67-65 lead.
Arkansas sophomore Desi Sills responded with a driving lay-in as he was fouled with 34.2 seconds to play, but with the game tied at 67-all he missed the free throw that would have given the Hogs a one-point lead.
The Razorbacks forced the Tigers into a shot clock violation on the ensuing possession, then junior guard Jalen Harris missed a running 3-point heave at the horn after racing two-thirds of the court in the final 3.5 seconds of regulation.
Arkansas led once in overtime, 69-68, after Jones got a steal and fed Sills for a transition bucket, but Mizzou answered with two free throws from Van Buren, Ark., native and junior forward Mitchell Smith, and then Smith drew a player-control foul on Jones to foul him out at the 3:22 mark of overtime.
Mizzou capitalized and stretched its extra-period lead to 77-70 with 1:45 remaining.
A Sills three-pointer at 0:34 in OT pulled the Hogs within 79-77, but a dunk by Tray Jackson off a lob pass and two free throws by Pinson sandwiched around a Reggie Chaney lay-in allowed Mizzou to regain and maintain two-possession leads to run out the clock.
Missouri dominated the glass (52-35) and was only minus-3 in turnovers (17-14), and the Tigers were better at the free-throw line (34-of-44 for 77.3%) than the Hogs (28-of-39 for 71.8%).
Both teams struggled shooting the ball. Arkansas was 24-of-62 from the field (38.7%), including 3-of-14 from 3 (21.4%). Mizzou was 23-of-60 (38.3%), including 3-of-16 from 3 (18.8%).
Musselman was asked if his team was beginning to wear down as it enters the second half of league play.
“I don’t think so,” Musselman said. “You look at overtime games, Auburn’s pretty good. Tonight we stunk in the first half, had a chance to win the game. So again, the fouls and the defensive rebounding.”
Jones, the SEC’s leading scorer coming in at 20.7 points per game, had just wrapped up three consecutive 30-points-or-more games but finished with only 17 points (3-of-14 field goals, including 0-of-6 from 3, and 11-of-14 free throws) to go with 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, and 4 turnovers in 36 minutes before fouling out in overtime.
“I thought their defense focused on him (Jones),” Musselman said. “Again, we just as a group need to have way better shot selection.”
Whitt — a Columbia, Mo., native — came in dealing with a lower back injury, and he finished with 15 points, the same total he had in an Arkansas win at Mizzou as a Hogs freshman during the ’15-16 campaign. Whitt also had 3 rebounds in his 40 minutes on the court.
Chaney registered a career-high in scoring (17 points on 6-of-12 field goal shooting and 5-of-7 free throws) and he also notched his first double-double as a Hog (he had 11 rebounds) to go with 2 blocks and 2 steals in a career-high 36 minutes.
“I thought Reggie played well tonight,” Musselman said. “When we have our big-big lineup that we’ve done basically since Isaiah’s been out, we struggle to score. We haven’t started games very well. There’s not as much spacing, and if Reggie and Adrio (Bailey) are going to play together, we’ve got to defensive rebound more than what we’re showing. 52 to 35 on the glass is … 44 free throws and you get annihilated on the backboards and the game goes into overtime.”
Sills finished with 12 points, 4 rebounds, and 1 assist in 33 minutes. Bailey had 10 points (3-of-3 field goals including a three-pointer, plus 3-of-5 free throws), 3 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 assist, 1 block, and 4 turnovers in 29 minutes before fouling out. Harris had 7 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, and 3 turnovers in 40 minutes before fouling out late in OT.
Pinson led Missouri with 24 points (5-of-15 field goals, including 2-of-4 from 3, and 12-of-13 free throws), 7 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1 steal in 41 minutes. Pickett had 14 points and 6 rebounds in 39 minutes.
Junior guard and leading scorer Dru Smith had 11 points, 4 rebounds, 4 steals, and 2 assists in 39 minutes before fouling out. Big man Nikko Reed finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds in 20 minutes before fouling out.
Smith had 8 points (including 6-of-7 free throws), 11 rebounds, and 1 steal in 35 minutes off the bench for the Tigers.
Sills’ 3-pointer at 15:59 was Arkansas’s first basket of the game and capped a 7-2 run for a 7-5 Hogs lead.
Mizzou strung together a 15-4 run to go up by nine points, 20-11.
Sills made two free throws, Bailey made a three-pointer, and Harris banked in a mid-range shot and hit a free throw in an 8-2 Hogs’ surge to cut the deficit down to 22-19.
But the Tigers struck back with a 6-0 spurt to go back up by nine, 28-19, with 4:42 left in the first half.
Jones made 4-of-4 free throws in the final minute as Arkansas trailed, 36-30, at the break.
Jones led the Razorbacks with 8 first-half points, Whitt had 6, and Chaney had 4 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 blocks.
Mizzou won rebounds (24-17) and turnovers (10-6) in the first 20 minutes while shooting 15-of-18 free throws.
Up next for Arkansas, the Hogs go back on the road for a Tuesday matchup against Tennessee in Knoxville before returning home to host Mississippi State on Saturday, Feb. 15.