Bob Holt is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and voter for the Heisman Trophy, Biletnikoff Award and AP Top 25 basketball poll. Holt was awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year in 2000 and 2015.
Hogs, Tigers leave road woes in rearview mirror
Auburn's Josh Wallace (11) defends Arkansas' Rickey Scott (3) during an NCAA college basketball game on Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013, at Auburn Arena in Auburn, Ala. The Razorbacks beat the Tigers 83-75.(AP Photo/Al.com, Julie Bennett)
FAYETTEVILLE Arkansas and Missouri finally enjoyed happy trips home.
The Razorbacks and Tigers, who had been the only two SEC teams not to win a road game this season, broke through Wednesday night when Arkansas won 83-75 at Auburn and Missouri won 78-36 at Mississippi State.
Arkansas and Missouri had been a combined 0-11 in road games.
“I think this kind of boosted our confidence - not too much to the point where we feel like we’ve done a ton, but just getting that first road win,” Missouri senior forward Laurence Bowers told the Columbia (Mo.) Daily Tribune. “I think it was great for our team, and now we know that we can win on the road.”
The Razorbacks (15-9, 6-5 SEC) hope to keep the Tigers (18-6, 7-4) from making it two road victories in a row when Missouri plays Arkansas at 3 p.m. Saturday in Walton Arena.
It will be the 38th game between the border state rivals, but the first time they’ve met in SEC play.
A few months after Mike Anderson left Missouri to become Arkansas’ coach in March 2011, the Tigers announced they were following him to the SEC for the 2012-2013 school year, switching from the Big 12Conference along with Texas A&M.
“Welcome aboard,” Anderson said of his reaction to Missouri joining the SEC. “I thought it was a good addition for the league, I really did. Having an opportunity to be with the people there, I know they were excited about coming over here.”
Arkansas will play at Missouri on March 5. The teams will continue to play home-and-home series every season under the current schedule configuration.
“They’re a part of the SEC, and I guess this is our natural rivalry now,” Anderson said. “So it’s one we have to continue to embrace and move forward.”
Missouri had been 0-5 on the road before winning by 42 points at Mississippi State, where the Tigers got 24 points from senior guard Keion Bell, 20 points from sophomore guard Jabari Brown, 8 assists from junior guard Phil Pressey, 11 points from Bowers and 10 rebounds from senior forward Alex Oriakhi.
Bowers, averaging 14.7 points and 6.7 rebounds per game, was sidelined by a knee injury and missed losses at Ole Miss and Florida because of a knee injury. Brown, averaging 11.1 points, missed the Tigers’ loss at LSU because of a shoulder injury.
“They’ve got all their pieces back together now, and they’re playing well,” Anderson said. “They’re playing with a lot of confidence right now, and getting that [road] win, that really helps your confidence.”
Anderson said the Razorbacks, led at Auburn by sophomore guard BJ Young (25 points) and junior forward Marshawn Powell (20 points), played with the same effort they did in beating then-No. 2 Florida 80-69 at home last week.
“I think with effort you can do a whole lot of things,” Anderson said. “The energy was there, guys were trusting one another. They played with the right mind-set. They were moving the ball, they were screening for one another. They were defending for one another. That’s the team we want to see from here on out.
“When you get to this time of the year, you’ve got to leave it on the floor, and I thought our guys did last night and hopefully it’s going to be something we’re going to continue to do.”
Missouri had been ranked in the 14 previous Associated Press polls this season - and as high as No. 7 in late December - before falling out of the poll this week’s poll after a 70-68 loss at Texas A&M. Arkansas opened SEC play with a 69-51 loss at Texas A&M.
“[Missouri] had a little blip at Texas A&M,” Anderson said. “We’ve been there and done that, too. That’s life on the road in the SEC.”
Sports, Pages 22 on 02/15/2013