Marshawn Powell had 24 points and B.J. Young seven of his 18 in the final 30 seconds as Arkansas rallied past Missouri 73-71 Saturday afternoon in a thrilling game before a season-high 19,004 fans and an ESPN2 national audience.
The Razorbacks (16-9, 7-5) trailed 70-66 with less than 30 seconds left, but Missouri native Young twice converted old-fashioned three-point plays and a free throw with five seconds left.
Jabari Brown then missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer as Mike Anderson's Arkansas team moved to 15-1 at home this season with an win over his old program.
"It was tough," Young said. "It was a tough 30 (seconds), because for a minute there, it looked kind of bleak for us. But we just had to keep fighting and never gave up until it was zero-zero on the clock ... Literally, every possession of the game mattered. It was just one of the craziest games I ever played in, if not THE craziest game. I still kind of can't believe what happened at the end, that we're on the winning end. That was a crazy game. I've never been a part of something quite like that."
"It was a gut check for our basketball team," Anderson said. "It was a game that could've gone either way. Early on I thought we had some good momentum and played well, but Missouri as I told our guys, Mizzou is a very good basketball team. They've been in the top 10, top 12 all year long."
The final minute was a dizzying one that included that two silly fouls by the Tigers (18-7, 7-5) on Young drives with 29 and 19 seconds left and a steal and near turnover by Coty Clarke (13 points, 7 rebounds) with 10 seconds left among its several controversial plays down the stretch.
"My teammates just kept encouraging me and telling me it wasn't over," Young said. "We just stayed together as a team and made plays down the stretch. Marshawn carried us when we needed points and rebounds, and I just tried to close out the game."
Powell, whose team could be in a four-way tie for fourth in the SEC by end of the day with Missouri, Ole Miss and Georgia, praised his teammate for being a closer.
"It was crazy. ... We just kept it in our mind to make another stop if we had to. .. Phil Pressey is an amazing guard, so that's what we focued on, and if we cut the head off, it's going to be hard for them to do anything. So that's what we focued on doing ... That 30 seconds was just sitting back and watching my man (Young) do what he does best."
Missouri head coach Frank Haith – who took over for Anderson after he returned to Fayetteville – was not happy with the happenings down the stretch and talked for less than two minutes after the game.
"Don't anyone ask me about the officiating," Haith said. "I am not getting in trouble today. As far as the game it was a high level game. I am proud of our guys how hard they fought under the circumstances and they really, really competed. They played their butts off tonight."
It was the first time that the two teams had played since John Pelphrey's Razorbacks beat Anderson's Tigers 94-91 back in the 2007-2008 season.
But it was the 38th time the squads – now permanent SEC foes that will play twice a year - had squared off in their history and Arkansas now leads the series 20-18.
"Yeah, it was big for me," Young said. "Coach Anderson, too, I'm not going to lie (smiles). That was big for both of us. The rest of the team just kept encouraigng us and that was a big game ... I was pretty revved up for this one."
Powell was the main man for Arkansas for most of the game as he led a 37-9 frontcourt scoring advantage that the Razorbacks had.
"Powell is really, really good," Anderson said. "As a matter of fact if you noticed we were going through him in the second half. Not only going through him, but he was delivering. He makes the game a lot easier for a whole lot of guys."
Keion Bell had a career-high 25 points for Missouri while Auburn transfer Earnest Ross added 16 points and nine rebounds and UConn transfer Alex Oriakhi seven points and 11 rebounds.
Phil Pressey (nine points, two assists, four turnovers) and Laurence Bowers (two points, four rebounds) – the only two players left on the Missouri roster from Anderson's time there – struggled while combining to go just 3-of-19 from the field.
"It was great to see them," Anderson said. "I hate to see them on the opposing team. I was hoping they were wearing the uniforms that I was sitting on the sideline. But at the same time I guess, like a father, I guess when you see them it's kind of like you glow. They came as young boys and now these guys are men. They're good at their profession and what they do.
"And they're great, great people," Anderson said. "I've known these guys when they were litty-bitty guys. Now to see them in a setting, you've got a full house, a national tv audience, and they're winners. I think they're winners and they're going to be winners in life. I'm proud of them, but you know the emotions are going. There's a strong feeling. There's an attachment that will be there forever."
Anderson tried to downplay that it was an emotional game for him.
"We didn't really even talk about the game from an emotional standpoint until right there at our pre-game," Anderson said. "It was Arkansas versus Missouri playing. Certainly there is going to be emotion because there is a big-time relationship with those kids and the University. There is no question about it. It is a great, great University and we had some great years there. So playing a former team – I said earlier in the year that it would be interesting and it was more than interesting. It was a heck of a ballgame."
Both teams went 11-of-30 from the field in the first half and ended the game with Arkansas shooting 42.6 percent from the field (26-61) and Missouri 39.7 percent (23-58).
The Razorbacks hit 7-of-23 3-pointers and 14-of-24 from the free throw line while the Tigers were 2-of-14 from beyond the arc and 23-of-31 on their charity tosses.
Arkansas forced 17 Missouri turnovers, which helped offset the Tigers' 47-31 dominance on the boards.
"Yeah, we played good enough to win," Haith said. " We did. We put ourselves in position to win, it just didn't go our way. I'm so proud of our guys, how they competed under the circumstances."
Missouri jumped out to a 9-0 lead early as Arkansas missed its first seven shots from the field and committed a pair of free throws.
The lead was still nine late in the half before the Razorbacks closed within a point as Clarke knocked down a trio of 3-pointers – which matched his total for the entire season.
"I thought Coty was big," Anderson said. "He knocked down three 3s. We settled for jump shots early on. In the second half, I thought we did a better job of attacking. Coty did a good job of kind of banging and I think he got some offensive rebounds that were big down the stretch. Coty was active."
The Razorbacks, who trailed 33-29 at intermission, roared out of the locker room with Powell scoring 12 early points.
"My team needs me, so I've got to step up," Powell said. ".... My team tells me all the time, one on one on the block it's hard to stop me. So that's what I went to, and I just tried to grind it out and get points for my team."
By the time Kikko Haydar knocked down a 3-pointer and Hunter Mickelson knocked down a jumper, the Razorbacks led 49-42 with 12:46 left in the game.
Haydar, the 5-10 walk on from Fayetteville was once again a sparkplug, and even got into it with the 6-10 Oriakhi at one point on a play that resulted in a jump ball going to Arkansas.
"I thought Kikko did a good job every time he was out there," Anderson said. "He was in guy's faces and harassing. Even when big Oriakhi got the ball down there low, he got a jump ball and he kind of lifted him up. I thought he was about to shoot him in the basket. He is so strong. The guy just fights. I have always been a guy that is blue collar and I love toughness. That is what he gives you. People around here have heard it. He may be small in stature, but he has got one of the biggest hearts. Phil is that kind of player. They play the game and they play to win."
A veteran Missouri team – featuring a starting line-up of five juniors and seniors - steadied itself tied the game on Bell's basket and then took a 65-63 lead on Bell's dunk off a loose ball with 2:15 remaining.
Bell's two free throws pushed Missouri's lead to 70-66 with 34 seconds left, but Young twice got in the paint around a free throw from Brown.
Young's second trip in there and his free throw with 19 seconds left gave the home team a 72-71 lead.
"He is a good player," Bell said of Young. "He penetrated hard and there was contact there and he finished with contact so that was a strong finish."
Clarke stole the ball and unwisely headed toward the goal only to lose the ball – which Arkansas kept.
Young then connected on one of two free throws with five seconds left and Arkansas survived Brown's 3-pointer from the right baseline.
"We wanted to get pinch-post action for Phil to come off and make the play," Haith said. "And he made a good decision. I thought he hit Jabari. Jabari just wasn't making shots today. I told him if he had a chance to get to the rim, get to the rim. If not, spray it around. I thought he made a good decision. I have to watch it on tape." Young didn't try to hide the fact that it was a big win for him – and his coach. "It was real big for us," Young said. "I know Coach Anderson really wanted it a lot, too, but these other guys (the Tigers) were just as amped up as we were to win... So it was a big win. But it was a good team win for us, not just me."
Arkansas and Missouri will play again in Columbia, Mo. on March 5th.
The Razorbacks will return to action Thursday when they host Georgia in 6 p.m. game at Bud Walton Arena.
All photos by Marc F. Henning
BJ Young fires a jumper on a night when he had 18 points and 5 assists.
Marshawn Powell scores inside for two of his team-high 24 points.
Powell and other Razorbacks celebrate with the fans after the victory.
Missouri's Keion Bell, who had a game-high 25 points, reacts to one of Arkansas' five charges taken on the day - this one by Mardracus Wade.
Kikko Haydar celebrates after one of his defensive plays on the day.
Haydar and Hunter Mickelson defend.
It was a stressful and emotional game for former Missouri and current Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson.
Rashad Madden had two points, four assists and a turnover in 21 minutes of action.