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.
BJ to the rescue
Young’s late surge takes out Missouri
Arkansas guard BJ Young (11) drives to the basket against Missouri's Keion Bell (5) during the Razorbacks' 73-71 win over Missouri. Young scored 18 points, including seven in the final 29 seconds. (AP Photo/Gareth Patterson)
FAYETTEVILLE BJ Young found it hard to comprehend Arkansas’ 73-71 victory over Missouri on Saturday before a sellout crowd of 19,004 at Walton Arena, even after he scored seven points in the final 29.3 seconds to make it happen.
“It was just one of the craziest games I ever played in, if not the craziest game,” said Young, a sophomore guard from St. Louis who finished with 18 points. “I still kind of can’t believe what happened at the end, that we’re on the winning end. I’ve never been a part of something quite like that.”
Missouri led 70-66 after senior guard Keion Bell hit two free throws with 34.2 seconds left to cap a 16-5 run for the Tigers.
“It looked kind of bleak for us,” Young said. “But we just had to keep fighting.”
Young took the fight to the Tigers and fouled out Bell - who scored a game-high 25points and hit 9 of 11 shots - in the process.
“I thought he stepped up and showcased the player that he’s capable of being,” Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said. “I thought early on he was really pressing. He actually was trying not to be aggressive and assertive, and that’s not BJ. Then I thought he gathered his steam.”
Young became plenty assertive when the Razorbacks (16-9, 7-5 SEC) needed him most. He scored on a drive and Bell was called for his fourth foul with 29.3 seconds left. Young then hit the free throw to pull Arkansas within 70-69.
Jabari Brown hit 1 of 2 free throws with 27.5 seconds left to give the Tigers a 71-69 lead.
Young then scored on another drive, drawing Bell’s fifth foul, and hit the free throw to put Arkansas ahead 72-71 with 19.6 seconds left.
“Big-time, that’s all you can say, really,” Razorbacks junior forward Marshawn Powell said of how Young took over the game. “We know he’s going to come up and make a play sooner or later. We just kept encouraging him, and he came through for us.”
Missouri (18-7, 7-5) still had two more possessions to try and win the game or send it into overtime, but the Tigers couldn’t score.
Junior forward Coty Clark stole the ball from Tigers point guard Phil Pressey with 10 seconds left. As Clarke drove to the basket, the ball was knocked away from him. A scramble ensued for the loose ball, which went out of bounds, and the officials couldn’t determine who touched it last. That resulted in a jump ball with the possession arrow pointing the Razorbacks’ way with six seconds left.
The Tigers fouled Young, who hit 1 of 2 free throws for a 73-71 lead.
Pressey took the inbound pass, drove into the front court and threw the ball to Brown, who missed a three-point attempt at the buzzer as Young contested the shot.
“It was a gut check for our basketball team,” Anderson said. “It was a game that could’ve gone either way.”
The game was especially emotional for Anderson, who was Missouri’s coach for five seasons before taking the Arkansas job last year. He didn’t know he’d be facing some of the players he had recruited and coached until the Tigers left the Big 12 Conference to join the SEC this season.
“I said earlier in the year that it would be interesting, and it was more than interesting,” Anderson said. “It was a heck of a ballgame.”
Missouri Coach Frank Haith didn’t find the game as entertaining as Anderson.
“First of all, I’d like to say, don’t anyone ask me about the officiating. I’m not getting in trouble today,” Haith said. “As far as the game, it was a high-level game.
“I’m proud of our guys, how hard they fought under the circumstances. I’m really, really proud of them. They competed, and I thought wejust worked out butts off out there today.
“We played good enough to win. We did. We put ourselves in position to win. It just didn’t go our way.”
Powell, who scored 24 points, hit 1 of 2 free throws to give Arkansas a 57-49 lead with 8:14 left. But the Razorbacks then began struggling with missed shots and turnovers, and Missouri fought back to take the lead behind Bell’s driving baskets.
The Razorbacks then chose to go to the basket, too, in the final seconds after Missouri took a four-point lead, rather than shoot threes.
“We wanted to attack the basket because we knew they were going to try to guard the perimeter, and that’s what BJ is good at,” Anderson said. “He’s good at slashing in there, and he was able to finish it. As skinny as he is, he was able to finish it.”
Young also finished at the defensive end, guarding Brown on the final shot.
“It was a tough cover because I had my eyes on Phil, just in case he tried to make a play, and he made a crosscourt pass and kind of caught me slipping,” Young said. “But I was able to recover and get a hand up just to alter his shot a little bit
“It was a good-looking shot. I didn’t know if it was going down until it got there, and it went to the other side of the rim. I just was happy. I didn’t really know what to do after that.”
Brown finished 2 of 10 from the field and 1 of 5 on three-pointers, but Haith said Pressey made a good decision to pass him the ball.
“Jabari just wasn’t making shots today,” Haith said.
Clarke had a strong game for the Razorbacks in support of Powell and Young and finished with 13 points, 7 rebounds and 2 steals.
Earnest Ross scored 16 points for the Tigers. Pressey and forward Laurence Bowers - whom Anderson said he considers to be his sons - finished with a combined 11 points on 3-of-19 shooting. Pressey was 2 of 9 from the field and Bowers 1 of 10.
“I thought you could see the emotions hit them a little bit,” Anderson said. “But, at the same time, I thought our guys did a good job defensively.”
Anderson offered encouraging words to Pressey and Bowers after the game.
“I told them that y’all have a good team and y’all are getting there, just keep working,” Anderson said. “We were lucky today.”
Sports, Pages 27 on 02/17/2013