SEC MEN’S BASKETBALL ARKANSAS 72, MISSOURI 60:

Hogs force 24 turnovers to halt slide

By: Bob Holt
Published: Thursday, January 24, 2019
Arkansas guard Isaiah Joe steals the ball from Missouri guard Jordan Geist during a game Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019, in Fayetteville.
Photo by J.T. Wampler
Arkansas guard Isaiah Joe steals the ball from Missouri guard Jordan Geist during a game Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019, in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- The University of Arkansas basketball team stopped the bleeding against Missouri.

The Razorbacks beat the Tigers 72-60 on Wednesday night in Walton Arena to end a four-game losing streak. It was Arkansas' first victory in 18 days since winning 73-71 at Texas A&M on Jan. 5.

"It's good for the psyche," Razorbacks Coach Mike Anderson. "Our guys know they're a good basketball team.

"We've come up short. We hadn't put together the 40 minutes that we talk about. I thought we were closer tonight, but it triggered because of our defense."

The Razorbacks forced 24 turnovers to match the season high by an opponent and limited their own to 14. They outscored the Tigers 27-13 in points off of turnovers.

"I thought tonight's loss was definitely self-inflicted," Missouri senior forward Kevin Puryear said. "We're perfectly capable of winning this game. You turn the ball over 24 times, it won't get you there, especially on the road."

Freshman guard Isaiah Joe led the Razorbacks (11-7, 2-4 SEC) with 23 points to help them overcome falling behind 17-4 and starting 1 of 12 from the field.

"We've just got to focus in and stay together as a team, don't disperse, stick together and be strong because we've been down in situations like this before and come back," Joe said. "So we knew we could bounce back. We just needed to start it on the defensive end, and that's what we did."

The Razorbacks had a 10-0 run -- including a pair of three-point baskets by Joe -- to push their lead to 70-59 with 2:27 left.

"We knew we were getting into their legs and they were getting a little winded, so we had to turn it up a notch on the defensive end," Joe said. "They went a long time without scoring, and we were able to capitalize off of it."

Joe hit 8 of 13 shots, including 7 of 12 three-pointers.

"He's good at creating space," Missouri junior guard Ronnie Suggs said about Joe. "You take a look off him for one second and he's able to back-door or find the open space. He's smart when he comes off the ball."

Arkansas sophomore forward Daniel Gafford had 13 points and 10 rebounds and didn't commit a foul.

"I thought Dan played smart," Anderson said. "Did a good job on the ball screens, getting up there and getting back. Just real active."

Gafford hit 6 of 9 shots, including a basket at the halftime buzzer as he was falling down to pull the Razorbacks within 34-32.

"I tell you what, the biggest play in the game to me was right there at halftime where Daniel gets it and scoops it up," Anderson said. "That was a big play. I thought it was a momentum play going into halftime, knowing that we hadn't played as good as we're capable of playing. But somehow our guys were fighting and scratching and clawing."

Arkansas sophomore point guard Jalen Harris had 10 points, 6 assists and 3 steals without a turnover.

"More than anything else, I thought he was in control out there," Anderson said of Harris. "That's what has to take place.

"When it's going erratic, you have to have somebody that settles them down, on offense and defense. I thought he grew up a little bit tonight."

Arkansas took the lead for good at 38-37 on sophomore guard Mason Jones' three-point shot with 17:39 left, and the Razorbacks answered every Missouri challenge.

"They're at home," Tigers Coach Cuonzo Martin said of Arkansas' rally from being down 13 points in the first half. "You make a couple of shots, you get some steals, get the crowd into it, you make some plays.

"They did a good job being aggressive and getting into the passing lanes against us. When we turned the ball over, they capitalized and scored the ball."

Sophomore guard Mark Smith led Missouri (10-7, 1-4) with 22 points. He hit 6 of 11 three-pointers.

"Smith kept them in it," Anderson said. "He kept making shot after shot, but our guys, I have to give them credit. They had some adversity, but they hung in there and it was a good team win."

Arkansas shot 44.1 percent (26 of 59) by hitting 25 of its last 47 shots.

"Mike's team's going to fight you," Martin said. "Now whether or not they could make shots and get momentum in the game, we knew they would compete and play hard. That was never an issue."

Arkansas freshman guard Desi Sills scored eight points off the bench, and freshman forward Reggie Chaney had 6 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals.

"We were trying to get our confidence back," Gafford said. "And that's what we did."

Game sketch

RECORDS Arkansas 11-7, 2-4 SEC; Missouri

10-7, 1-4

STARS Arkansas guard Isaiah Joe had 23 points, including 7 of 12 three-pointers, and forward Daniel Gafford had 13 points and 10 rebounds. Missouri guard Mark Smith scored 22 points on 6-of-11 threepoint shooting.

TURNING POINT The Razorbacks went on a 10-0 run, sparked by a pair of Isaiah Joe three-pointers, to turn a 60-59 lead into a 70-59 edge in a two-minute span ending at the 2:28 mark.

KEY STAT Arkansas scored 27 points off 24 Missouri turnovers.

UP NEXT The Razorbacks play No. 14 Texas Tech on Saturday in Lubbock, Texas.

Sports on 01/24/2019

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