Tom Murphy is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of Louisiana Tech University, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and voter for the Heisman Trophy and AP Top 25 football poll.
In the lane:
Missouri keeps lid on crowd
Missouri guard Earnest Ross (33) scores a 3-pointer during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Arkansas on Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014, in Fayetteville, Ark. Missouri won 75-71. (AP Photo/Gareth Patterson)
FAYETTEVILLE - Missouri played with the lead or was tied for all but 1:43 in its 75-71 victory over Arkansas on Tuesday.
The Razorbacks’ largest lead was 43-41 on a Michael Qualls alley-oop dunk from Coty Clarke after a Ky Madden steal - but it lasted 17 seconds. Otherwise, Arkansas led by one point twice in the first half and once in the second half.
“Once you get the crowd going your way and them throwing alley-oops in transition, it’s tough,” said Missouri guard Earnest Ross. “Just being able to keep our minds right and staying together was very important.”
Each time Arkansas took the lead, Missouri reclaimed the lead or tied the game with its next possession, including Ryan Rosburg’s dunk to make it 4-3 after Coty Clarke saved the ball inbound under the Tigers basket.
“It’s extremely important, particularly on the road, in keeping their crowd out of it,” Missouri Coach Frank Haith said of the importance of quickly regaining leads. “I thought we answered when they made a run.”Taking it back
Missouri lost 73-71 at Walton Arena last Feb.
16, blowing a 70-66 lead with less than 30 seconds remaining.
The Tigers remembered the tightrope finish to that game after Tuesday’s 75-71 victory.
“We really wanted it,” junior guard Jabari Brown said. “We feel like they stole one from us last year. We definitely had to get them this time.”
Board beat down
Missouri out rebounded Arkansas 42-26, including a 16-9 advantage in offensive rebounds. None of the offensive boards was more important than Earnest Ross’ backside grab of a Jordan Clarkson miss with 1:16 remaining and the game tied 64-64. After a Missouri timeout, Clarkson drove the lane, drew defenders and passed out to Ross for a three-pointer from the top of the key with 1:06 left that put the Tigers ahead for good.
“Rebounding, free-throw shooting, all of those things are important in winning basketball games,” Missouri Coach Frank Haith said.
Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said he thought the Tigers played with more energy on the glass.
“We had some periods where we did do some good things defensively, but they got 16 offensive rebounds,” Anderson said. “That’s huge, because now it puts us in a position to foul. Even when the score was tied up going down the stretch, they came up with a big rebound. We made a stop, and we didn’t come up with the rebound.” Blown up
Arkansas has lost five SEC games and the Razorbacks have blown leads with less than four minutes remaining in four of them.
Tuesday, the Hogs led61-60 on a Michael Qualls three-pointer at the 3:28 mark. Missouri outscored the Razorbacks 15-10 down the stretch.
Missouri made all 16 of its free-throw attempts in the second half and finished the game 22 of 27 (81.5 percent).
Jabari Brown and Earnest Ross were each 8 of 8 for the game.
Arkansas made 13 of 19 free throws and was out shot at the line for the sixth time in seven SEC games.
“That’s something we take pride in, and I’m glad the guys went to the line with confidence and knocked them down,” Missouri’s Ross said.
Missouri beat Arkansas 15-10 in second-chance points and outscored Arkansas 6-2 in fast-break points, one of Arkansas’ strengths.
Arkansas’ bench outscored Missouri’s bench 23-4.
There were five lead changes and the game was tied 10 times.
Arkansas swingman Michael Qualls broke out of his shooting slump with 16 points. He was 4 of 8 on three-point attempts and 6 of 13 overall. Qualls came into the game 2 of 20 on three point attempts in SEC play.
Game of runs
Missouri opened in a zone defense, and the Tigers opened a 10-3 lead as Arkansas went 1 of 9 from the field.
Arkansas outscored Missouri 8-0 run in the next 1:11 to move ahead 11-10.
The topsy-turvy swings continued, as Missouri then reeled off a 9-0 run to go up 19-11 on Earnest Ross’ driving layup at the 10:26 mark. The Tigers built a 10-point lead at 33-23 before Arkansas shaved it down to 36-34 at the half.
Missouri has started the same five players - Jabari Brown, Jordan Clarkson, Ryan Rosburg, Earnest Ross and Johnathan Williams - in all 20 games. The Razorbacks have used eight different combinations of lineups. The lineup of Anthlon Bell, Coty Clarke, Fred Gulley, Ky Madden and Bobby Portis started for the fourth consecutive game for Arkansas and dropped to 2-2.
TUESDAY’S GAMES Missouri 75, Arkansas 71 LSU 87, Kentucky 82
TODAY’S GAMES All times Central Texas A&M at South Carolina, 6 p.m.
Vanderbilt at Georgia, 6 p.m.
Mississippi at Tennessee, 7 p.m.
Alabama at Auburn, ppd., weather
THURSDAY’S GAME Florida at Mississippi State, 6 p.m.
SATURDAY’S GAMES Kentucky at Missouri, noon Georgia at Auburn, 12:30 p.m.
South Carolina at Mississippi, 12:30 p.m.
Texas A&M at Florida, 3 p.m.
Arkansas at LSU, 4 p.m.
Mississippi State at Vanderbilt, 4 p.m.
Tennessee at Alabama, 7 p.m.
Sports, Pages 22 on 01/29/2014