COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - After his team edged Missouri 61-60 on Saturday, Arkansas coach Mike Anderson described the win as “fortunate.”
The Razorbacks could only watch as Missouri sophomore guard Wes Clark shot two free throws with 3.3 seconds remaining, down by a single point. Both attempts bounced off the rim and missed, leaving Arkansas elated and Missouri stunned.
Arkansas’ Rashad Madden grabbed the rebound, but wasn’t fouled as the Tigers stood in shock.
“I’m sure if Wes shot those free throws nine other times, he would make them,” Anderson said. “But this afternoon, it shined on the Razorbacks.”
Alandise Harris scored 14 points while Bobby Portis added 12 and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead Arkansas (15-4, 4-2), which moved to 2-1 on the road in Southeastern Conference play this season and 12-36 away from Bud Walton Arena in four years under Anderson.
Montaque Gill-Caesar scored 16 points to lead Missouri (7-12, 1-5), which lost its fifth consecutive game and eighth in its last 10. Johnathan Williams III added 15 points and grabbed 10 rebounds while Keith Shamburger chipped in 10 points.
“Wes Clark didn’t lose the game,” first-year Tigers coach Kim Anderson said adamantly. “Without him, that situation probably wouldn’t have occurred. No one feels worse than Wes Clark about missing two free throws.”
Arkansas built a 21-16 edge early before watching Missouri use a 12-2 run that propelled the Tigers to a 34-30 halftime lead. The Razorbacks’ full-court press didn’t faze Missouri, which committed three turnovers and grabbed a 23-13 rebounding advantage in the opening 20 minutes.
Arkansas found a rhythm out of the locker room, though, scoring 11 of the first 14 points of the half and reminding the Tigers of their 62-50 loss at Texas A&M on Wednesday in which they were outscored 38-19 in the second half.
The Tigers fought back again, tying the game at 41 before the teams largely traded baskets for the rest of the game. A 3-pointer by Gill-Caesar gave Missouri a 60-59 lead with 1:53 remaining followed by a 2-pointer by Madden 29 seconds later.
Neither team would score again.
Clark finished with eight points, including four on two jumpers in the final five minutes to twice cut Missouri’s deficit to two points. He made 2 of 4 free throw attempts and has converted 30 of 42 this season; the Tigers finished 7 of 11 as a team from the line.
“It was a team effort,” Gill-Caesar said. “It wasn’t his fault. After the game, that’s exactly what we told him. We win together; we lose together. Today it just didn’t go our way, but it’s nobody’s fault.”
A smattering of boos followed Anderson onto the court pregame, though not as many as in past seasons. The fourth-year Arkansas coach compiled a 111-57 record at Missouri from 2006-11 before abruptly heading southwest.
One of the loudest cheers of the day from a season-best 11,022 in attendance came during halftime when officials presented football coach Gary Pinkel with the Battle Line Rivalry trophy stemming from his team’s 21-14 win against the Razorbacks on Nov. 28 to capture the SEC East title.
Arkansas: The Razorbacks made 23 of 63 shots (36.5 percent) and tied the Tigers on the boards at 39, grabbing a 16-13 edge on the offensive glass.
Missouri: The Tigers only committed eight turnovers (but forced just three) and finished 23 of 58 (39.7 percent) from the field.
SEASON-LOW FOR RAZORBACKS
Arkansas had been the only SEC team to score at least 65 points in each of its games this season before Saturday. Missouri held Arkansas to 22.5 points below its SEC-best average of 83.5 per game.
Arkansas won its second consecutive squeaker after defeating Alabama 93-91 in overtime less than 40 hours before tip-off Saturday. The Razorbacks had lost their two previous games to drop out of the rankings.
“We needed to bounce back with a 2-0 week,” Harris said. “We’ll just do it game by game, week by week. And then we’ll be where we’re supposed to be at the end.”
Arkansas returns home to face Tennessee on Tuesday.
Missouri hosts No. 1 Kentucky on Thursday.
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