Nate Allen is a columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, Allen is a voter for the Heisman Trophy. He has authored three books about the Razorbacks.
Clarke’s shining start crucial for Hogs
Missouri's Alex Oriakhi, top, attempts to rebound against Arkansas' Coty Clarke (4) during the second half an NCAA college basketball game in Fayetteville, Ark., Saturday Feb. 16, 2013. Arkansas defeated Missouri 73-71. (AP Photo/Gareth Patterson)
FAYETTEVILLE If not for Coty Clarke in the beginning, BJ Young doesn’t win in the end nor does Marshawn Powell shine throughout Saturday’s victory over Missouri.
Young outscored the Missouri Tigers 7-1 in the game’s final 29 seconds, and Powell’s team-leading 24 points, including 15 in the second half, understandably grabbed headlines for Arkansas’ 73-71 victory in the first-ever Arkansas vs. Mizzou SEC men’s basketball clash Saturday before a 19,004 full-house at Walton Arena.
Nonetheless, Clarke, the Razorbacks’ 6-7 junior-college transfer forward, deserves his measure for keeping Arkansas afloat in the first half that Mizzou began with a 9-0 run but only led, 33-29 at intermission.
Including a surprising 3 of 3 treys, Clarke scored 12 of his 13 points to keep Arkansas in striking distance after a first half dominated by Mizzou.
And with Arkansas badly out rebounded, 47-31, the Hogs needed Clarke’s team-leading seven rebounds just to prevent being absolutely erased on the boards.
Coach Frank Haith’s Tigers knew all about Young, the St. Louis born sophomore guard averaging a team-leading 16.5 points entering the game.
Up front they knew all about Powell, the 6-7 fourth-year junior forward this season scoring from 11 to 33 points for 19 of his 25 games.
Clarke, averaging just 6.6 points and hitting half his season’s three point totals in a single game, 3 of 9 before become 6 of 12 after, was more than Mizzou bargained for.
“He was a huge factor,” Powell said. “He probably wasn’t accounted for as much as I was on their scouting report, so it opened him up a little bit and he was able to show his game.”
Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson certainly concurred.
“I thought Coty was big,” Anderson said. “He knocked down threes.”
Though scoring just one second-half point, Clarke’s productivity didn’t cease after the game’s first 20 minutes. His deflecting the ball from Mizzou point guard Phil Pressey returned the ball to Arkansas with just six seconds left forcing Mizzou to foul Young. Young made 1 of 2 for the 73-71 lead and just five seconds left for Mizzou’s Jabari Brown lofting a prayer unanswered.
“Coty did a good job of banging and I think he got some offensive rebounds that were big down the stretch,” Anderson said. “Coty was active.”
Mardracus Wade interrupted Mizzou’s momentum by taking two charges and making 2 steals, 2 assists and 0 turnovers in 32 minutes. Coming off the bench. guards Ky Madden and Kikko Haydar and forwards Hunter Mickelson, Michael Qualls and Jacorey Williams all can take bows for their supporting roles.
Anderson, who arrived at Arkansas from Mizzou two years ago, will need them all when he takes his Razorbacks for the March 5 rematch at the Tigers’ lair in Columbia, Mo.
Meanwhile next comes Georgia on Thursday night to Walton, a potential trap for Arkansas between the emotional victory over their newest SEC border rival and Saturday’s rematch visit to Florida, the 11-1 SEC leader that Arkansas flattened in Fayetteville.
Sports, Pages 18 on 02/18/2013