Missouri made plays when it counted. Arkansas did not.
Earnest Ross' 3-pointer sparked a 9-0 run with 1:16 to go in the game, leading the Missouri Tigers (16-4) to a 75-71 victory over the Arkansas Razorbacks (13-7, 2-5). The win is Mizzou's first in Bud Walton Arena since it opened in the 1993-1994 season.
"It’s a great accomplishment for those kids," said Missouri head coach Frank Haith. "It's a touch place to get a win. This building has been magical for them."
The fifth-year senior Ross finished with 24 points. But no basket was bigger than his three-pointer with 1:16 to go. Guard Jordan Clarkson cut to the basket taking Arkansas defenders with him, leading Ross open at the top of the key. That play led to a 9-0 run in a stretch of :51 seconds in the last 1:30 of the game.
"When Jordan can get to the line, kickouts are going to be open," said Ross. "We just have confidence in ourselves to knock it down."
Mizzou jumped out to a 10-3 run to start the game. Arkansas answered, taking the lead 11-10 with a Rashad Madden 3-pointer. Mizzou took control midway through the first-half, leading 33-23. Arkansas would not go away on the strength of eight 3-pointers in the first-half. The Hogs cut the lead to 36-34 at halftime. Despite the score, Anderson was not happy about his team's performance in the first 20 minutes of play.
"I thought they had more energy than our guys did," said Anderson. "We settled in their match-up zone, we kind of settled."
Arkansas settled down in the second-half. The Razorbacks regained the lead in the at 43-41 on a fast-break dunk by sophomore Michael Qualls. The Tigers then responded to what was a rocking Bud Walton Arena. Mizzou answered with a 15-3 run, opening up a 56-46. The Razorbacks chipped away at that led late, tying the game at 64-64. But then that Mizzou run ended the game.
"We answered when they made a run," said Haith. "I thought our guys showed great touchiness and great poise. I think this team is prepared to compete on the road."
Missouri showed that poise at the free-throw line. The Tigers finished the second-half 16-16, including six-straight from the charity stripe in the final minute of play. Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson gave all the credit to a Mizzou team that just made plays down the stretch.
"They made shots, big shots." said Anderson. "You have to give Missouri credit. They did what they had to do. They made some plays in the end."
Missouri junior Jabari Brown added 24 points. Jordan Clarkson scored 11 points, adding six assists for the Tigers.
Junior guard Rashad Madden led the Hogs with 20 points. Sophomore Michael Qualls and freshman Bobby Portis added 16 each. The loss is Arkansas' second at home this season, after undefeated home schedule at Bud Walton Arena a season ago.
"You are always supposed to take care of home," said Qualls. "We haven’t been doing a good job. We have to focus on finishing the conference out strong."
Mizzou returns home Saturday to play Kentucky. Arkansas hopes to break its road losing streak at LSU Saturday.