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.
SEC BASKETBALL MISSOURI 86, ARKANSAS 85:
Misery in Missouri
Hogs let last shot slip away
Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson reacts to a referee's call during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Missouri, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, in Columbia, Mo. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)
COLUMBIA, Mo. - Arkansas made a 29-point improvement from its game at Mizzou Arena a year ago.
That wasn’t quite enough for the Razorbacks to beat Missouri.
The Tigers hung on to beat Arkansas 86-85 on Thursday night in front of an announced crowd of 12,362 when junior guard Ky Madden missed on a driving attempt with two seconds left.
Razorbacks freshman forward Bobby Portis had a chance for the rebound but couldn’t control it, and time expired as players went for the loose ball.
It was the third consecutive victory for Missouri against Arkansas, including a 93-63 pounding at Mizzou Arena last season and winning 75-71 earlier this season in Walton Arena.
“It was a pretty good look,” Portis said of Madden’s final shot. “Actually, I almost got the tip-in but I mistimed it.”
Jabari Brown scored on a driving basket to give Missouri an 86-85 lead with 12.2 seconds left.
“Give credit to Missouri,”Razorbacks Coach Mike Anderson said. “They made one more play than we did. We were in position and did not finish the deal, but I’ve got to give credit to them. Brown made a play, and that’s what good players do.”
Anderson, who called a timeout with 10.2 seconds left to draw up a play for the final possession, said the Razorbacks spread the floor for Madden to drive and either hit an open shooter or get to the basket to try and score or draw a foul.
“We wanted to put it up with enough time where we can get a rebound,” Anderson said. “We actually had the ball, but it slipped out of Bobby’s hands.
“We gave ourselves a chance. The ball just didn’t bounce our way. They made one more play. I told our guys we didn’t lose the game, we just ran out of time.”
Missouri 6-5 guard Jordan Clarkson guarded the 6-5 Madden and got help defense from 6-10 Ryan Rossburg.
“It was a great rotation by Ryan,” Clarkson said. “He did a good job of chesting him and keeping his hands high so he didn’t foul and forcing him into a tough shot.”
Madden, who led Arkansas with 17 points, was called for stepping on the baseline with 23 seconds left and the shot clock running down with the Razorbacks ahead 85-84.
“If you want to win ballgames, you’ve got to make plays,” Missouri Coach Frank Haith said. “It’s about making plays, and I thought our guys made plays there at the end.”
Arkansas had a 10-0 run capped by Mardracus Wade’s driving basket to take an 85-83 lead with 1:15 left. Clarkson, who had a game-high 27 points, then hit 1 of 2 free throws with 54.6 seconds left to pull Missouri within 85-84.
After Madden’s turnover, Clarkson stayed in the backcourt - guarded by Wade - and Brown drove on Madden for the game-winning basket.
Brown said Clarkson’s decision not to come into the front court helped create more space for his drive.
“I didn’t want to settle for a jumper,” said Brown, who scored 25 points. “I wanted to try and get a shot going towards the basket, and I was able to get a pretty good shot.”
Arkansas (15-9, 4-7) was trying to win back-to-back road games for the first time in Anderson’s three seasons after beating Vanderbilt 77-75 last Saturday on Michael Qualls’ three-point basket with 2.6 seconds left.
The opportunity was there at Missouri for another last-possession victory after Razorbacks rallied from an83-75 deficit with 3:30 left.
“It was pretty tough losing at the end like that,” said Arkansas forward Alandise Harris, who scored 16 points off the bench. “We fought back in the game and made some big plays.
“We just didn’t get that one stop that we needed at the end. Or make a play when we needed it.”
Harris said rallying late instead of allowing Missouri to pull away still is a confidence boost for the Razorbacks, who are 3-23 on the road under Anderson.
“We lost, but it’s still positive,” Harris said.
Portis added 15 points and eight rebounds for the Razorbacks, Coty Clarke had12 points and Qualls had 10 points.
Missouri guard Earnest Ross had 15 points and 11 rebounds.
Much of the game was spent at the free-throw line, where Missouri hit 34 of 38 attempts and Arkansas hit 29 of 37.
“I thought it was a great game, but I thought it was disruptive,” Anderson said. “Very disruptive.”
Haith said he wasn’t sure what Clarkson was doing when he stayed in the backcourt on Missouri’s final possession.
“Once Jordan bailed out, I said, ‘Jabari, go, go,’ ” Haith said. “And he went and made a play.”
Portis said he didn’t pay attention to Clarkson.
“All I know is Brown made a great play for his ballclub,” Portis said. “That’s just pretty much it.”
Sports, Pages 19 on 02/14/2014