Tilmon, Missouri hold on to beat Arkansas

By: Charlie Clarke, The Associated Press
Published: Tuesday, February 12, 2019
Missouri's Jeremiah Tilmon, center, holds on the ball as teammates Jordan Geist, right, and Javon Pickett, left, celebrate after they defeated Arkansas 79-78 during an NCAA college basketball game Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019, in Columbia, Mo. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)
Missouri's Jeremiah Tilmon, center, holds on the ball as teammates Jordan Geist, right, and Javon Pickett, left, celebrate after they defeated Arkansas 79-78 during an NCAA college basketball game Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019, in Columbia, Mo. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)

— Missouri locked down on the final defensive possession and squeaked by Arkansas 79-78 Tuesday night.

The Tigers were up three points with 17 seconds remaining when Arkansas' Daniel Gafford threw down an alley-oop dunk from Jalen Harris. On the ensuing inbound play, Missouri's Xavier Pinson committed a push-off foul to give Arkansas the ball back and a chance to win.

Missouri's Jeremiah Tilmon didn't allow Harris to get a quality shot off, and the ball was tipped back to him as time expired.

Tilmon led Missouri (12-11, 3-8 Southeastern Conference) with 21 points. Senior Jordan Geist contributed 18 points as the Tigers avoided falling below .500 for the first time since Cuonzo Martin took over as head coach at the beginning of last season.

The Tigers erupted for 46 points in the first half, eclipsing their previous season high of 45 against Morehead State on Dec. 29.

Gafford led Arkansas (14-10, 5-6) with 26 points on 12-of-17 shooting. He scored the Razorbacks' first 10 points of the game.

Arkansas shot 47 percent from the field. The Tigers won the turnover battle 12-11 and outrebounded Arkansas 39-33.

BIG PICTURE

Arkansas: The Razorbacks had a chance to win, but instead it turns into a loss that will hurt their NCAA Tournament chances.

Missouri: The Tigers have struggled to maintain leads recently, so holding off Arkansas' comeback attempt was a step in the right direction. Missouri is still off the radar in terms of NCAA Tournament hopes.

UP NEXT

Arkansas returns home to face Mississippi State on Saturday.

Missouri hits the road to take on Mississippi on Saturday.

Missouri 79, Arkansas 78 - FINAL

Arkansas has now lost two straight on the road in the SEC after Jalen Harris' wild shot in the closing seconds falls well short. The Razorbacks are now 14-10 on the season and 5-6 in the SEC with Mississippi State coming to Bud Walton Arena on Saturday

Daniel Gafford led all scorers with 26 points and eight rebounds. Isaiah Joe added 17 and Mason Jones had 12. Jeremiah Tilmon led the Tigers with 21 points - his most in an SEC game this season. Jordan Geist added 18 and Xavier Pinson finished with 11.

We will have more from tonight's game later on WholeHogSports.com.

Missouri 79, Arkansas 78 - 10 seconds left

Arkansas went for a quick two and got it from Gafford. He's got 26 points on 12-of-17 from the floor. Assist came from Jalen Harris, who has five dimes tonight. Then, on the ensuing inbounds pass, Harris drew an offensive foul on Xavier Pinson. Hogs ball with 10 seconds to go.

Missouri 79, Arkansas 76 - 17 seconds left

Missouri was bailed out late in the shot clock up two. The baseline official whistled Gafford for his fourth foul when there was clearly no contact whatsoever. Arkansas calls for time after Geist split a pair at the line.

Missouri 72, Arkansas 68 - 3:37 left

Daniel Gafford is having another strong half and has been much better than he was late against South Carolina. He's up to 23 points on 11-of-16 from the floor tonight, and has a pair of and-1s in as many minutes. He'll be at the line out of the final media timeout.

Missouri has hit four of its last five shots, so if Arkansas hopes to steal one on the road it'll need to come up with a few stops over the final three-plus minutes. Missouri averaging 1.241 PPP for the game tonight. That's not a good figure if you're Arkansas.

Missouri 70, Arkansas 63 - 4:43 left

Mike Anderson calls for time after Missouri guard Ronnie Suggs hit his first shot of the game - a 3 to give the Tigers a seven-point lead with five to go. Keyshawn Embery-Simpson got sucked into the lane by dribble penetration and left Suggs for an uncontested 3.

On the ensuing possession, Gafford was rejected by Tilmon. His three blocked shots are a season-high and tie a career-high. He had just two over his last eight games played prior to tonight.

Missouri 65, Arkansas 60 - 7:57 left

Arkansas is slowly chipping away at Missouri's lead. Mason Jones has hit a 3 and got an and-1 on the Razorbacks' last two offensive possessions to set the current score. He will be at the line when play resumes. He is the third Arkansas player in double figures with 11. Those were his first buckets of the second half.

Jeremiah Tilmon has tied an SEC-high with 19 points tonight on 7-of-10 from the floor to go with three boards and a pair of blocks. He has a team-high seven since the break, and Geist has five. Tigers shooting 40 percent in the second half and just 2-of-9 from distance.

Missouri 58, Arkansas 50 - 11:52 left

Isaiah Joe got another midrange jumper to fall and Gabe Osabuohien finished strong at the rim to cut the Tigers' lead to eight at the under-12 timeout. Osabuohien was fouled on his layup, but badly missed the free throw. He's now 1-of-3 from the floor and a minus-10 in seven minutes tonight.

The Razorbacks just got a defensive stop prior to the timeout and will have the ball when play resumes. Tigers are 4-of-12 from the floor and 1-of-8 from deep in the second half. Now is the time Arkansas needs to make a run.

Missouri 56, Arkansas 46 - 14:12 left

Isaiah Joe is doing all he can to keep the Razorbacks in this one. He's got eight points since halftime on 3-of-3 from the floor, including a pair of 3s. He now owns the freshman record for 3s in a season and will add to it with each triple over the final month of the season.

Jordan Geist and Jeremiah Tilmon each have 15 points for Missouri, which is shooting a modest 36 percent in the second half. Tigers continuing to take care of the ball for the most part - 5 turnovers tonight. Arkansas has just seven points off turnovers, so Missouri limiting the Hogs' chances to run.

Missouri 46, Arkansas 36 - Halftime

The Razorbacks just allowed 46 first-half points and 1.353 points per possession to the 12th-best offense in the SEC - one that averages 95.5 points per 100 possessions in league games. Not great. Tigers are also without 3-point specialist Mark Smith (ankle).

Daniel Gafford leads all scorers with 16 points on 8-of-9 from the floor. He did pick up his second foul with under 10 seconds to play in the first half, but otherwise a solid half. Three turnovers aren't ideal, but you can't complain about his effort so far. He's been steady.

Meanwhile, the rest of the Razorbacks are a combined 5-of-20 from the floor. Mason Jones is Arkansas' next leading scorer and he has six - four free throws and a midrange jumper. Four others have at least three. Isaiah Joe is one 3 away from setting the school's freshman record for triples in a season. Jalen Harris has three assists and one turnover. He has not scored.

Missouri shot the ball fairly well in the first half (43.2 percent) and coupled it with just four turnovers in 34 possessions. That's how you beat Arkansas - take care of the ball. Geist and Tilmon each have 12 to lead the Tigers.

Missouri 36, Arkansas 24 - 4:01 left first half

As you can see, nothing in the way of offense for the Razorbacks between the media timeouts. Arkansas is 0-of-2 from the floor in that span with three turnovers. Razorbacks are 1-of-10 from 3-point range.

Reed Nikko and Kevin Puryear have the Tigers' buckets since the under-8 break. Nikko put a nice forearm shiver into Gafford's back shortly after Arkansas' 7-0 run and Gafford had to leave the game and have Dave England check him out. Desi Sills will be at the foul line when play resumes.

Missouri 30, Arkansas 24 - 7:24 left first half

Gafford is rolling with 14 points on 7-of-8 from the floor and he's finally getting some scoring from teammates. Mason Jones knocked down a midrange jumper, Adrio Bailey has two buckets - one a two-hand slam - and Isaiah Joe hit a 3, helping the Razorbacks cut the Tigers' lead to six.

Missouri has missed its last five shots - more like Puryear and Tilmon have. The Tigers were scoring at a 1.625 PPP clip prior to those misses. Missouri was playing as well offensively as it has all season long. But, a quick 7-0 Arkansas run over the last 1:16 of the game has this tight again. Cuonzo Martin called for time to stop the bleeding.

Missouri 20, Arkansas 10 - 12:25 left first half

Gafford is the only Razorbacks player to score to this point. He has 10 on 5-of-6 shooting. The rest of the team is 0-for-9, including six misses from deep.

Geist and Tilmon each have six for the Tigers early on. Missouri is 8-of-17 from the floor and playing mistake-free ball. Tigers haven't turned the ball over in 13 possessions so far. Cuonzo Martin's club is averaging 1.538 points per possession at the moment.

Missouri 12, Arkansas 8 - 15:49 left first half

Daniel Gafford is off to a strong start tonight. He has already matched his scoring output from Saturday with eight points on four shots. He viciously blocked a shot at the rim, too, so nice start, but he did turn it over to send us to the first media timeout.

Missouri is hot offensively. Jordan Geist and Xavier Pinson each have hit 3s, and Kevin Puryear has four points to lead the way. Tigers shooting 5-of-10 from the floor so far. Jeremiah Tilmon scored Missouri's first bucket of the night.

Pregame

Arkansas' starting lineup: Jalen Harris, Isaiah Joe, Mason Jones, Adrio Bailey and Daniel Gafford.

Gafford is coming off his lowest-scoring outing of his sophomore season, so we'll see if he shakes back and can stay on the floor and out of foul trouble tonight. He did not commit a foul in the teams' first meeting in Fayetteville. The matchup between he and Jeremiah Tilmon will be the one to watch.

Joe is one 3-pointer away from tying Rotnei Clarke's freshman record for 3-pointers in a season with 83. There's a pretty good chance that mark falls tonight. I'll also be watching for Jalen Harris to have a bouce-back game. He scored a career-best 17 points at South Carolina over the weekend, but turned the ball over five times and took a game-high 16 shots. I expect a solid night out of him.

Missouri's starters: Jordan Geist, Javon Pickett, Torrence Watston, Kevin Puryear and Jeremiah Tilmon.

A fairly big storyline entering tonight's game is the status of Tigers sharpshooter Mark Smith and Jeremiah Tilmon. Neither played in Saturday's home loss to Texas A&M. Smith hasn’t practiced the past couple of weeks and has worn a walking boot during the past two games, according to Dave Matter of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, after rolling his ankle in the final minute of Arkansas' win over Missouri on Jan. 23. Tilmon had emergency wisdom tooth extraction late last week, but, obviously, is in the starting lineup tonight.

Missouri has sorely missed Smith's shooting. In his absence, the Tigers are shooting just 29 percent from 3-point range over the last five games. The Tigers shot nearly 40 percent from deep in the first 17 games of the season. Missouri sits at 2-8 in SEC play entering tonight with a road win over Texas A&M and Vanderbilt. The Tigers are 1-4 in Mizzou Arena in league games.

Running updates by Scottie Bordelon

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