No. 18 Arkansas 84, Missouri 69

Michael Qualls had 21 points, Bobby Portis adds 16 points and 9 rebounds and Anton Beard 13 points and 5 assists as No. 18 Arkansas downs Missouri 84-69 Wednesday night before a crowd of 12,693 fans on a night when the Razorbacks honored former legend Corliss Williamson by raising his banner to the roof of Bud Walton Arena.

Arkansas' late-season train just kept cruising down the track on Wednesday night with one of its program's greatest players looking on with a smile.

Michael Qualls had 21 points and No. 18 Arkansas used a 15-0 run in the first half to beat Missouri 84-69 before a crowd of 12,693 fans at Bud Walton Arena on Wednesday night as the Razorbacks grabbed their fifth fifth straight victory and eighth in nine games.

Bobby Portis added 16 points on 8-of-12 shooting and Anton Beard had 13 points and 5 assists to help the Razorbacks (21-5, 10-3 Southeastern Conference) continue their best start in conference play since the 1997-98 season.

"It was a hard fought game," noted Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson, who left Missouri four years ago to return to Arkansas where he was an assistant for 17 years. "I'm proud of the effort to our guys, and one of the telling signs of effort form our guys from our guys is from the deflection category that we keep, and we had 61 deflections, so that means we were pretty active.

"We tried to make Missouri uncomfortable and I want to give them credit," Anderson added. "(Missouri first-year head coach) Kim Anderson and his kids, they wouldn't go away. We tried to delver what we call that knockout punch, but they kept fighting and scratching and clawing. To me, that's Kim Anderson. I have no doubt about it, he'll get that program back to where it should be."

They did so with former Arkansas All-American and Portis mentor Corliss Williamson who became like a father to Portis - having his banner raised to the roof at halftime.

"I grew up with Corliss, you know, second grade and like every year like our relationship got stronger just because I really didn't have like a father in my life and like Corliss kind of stepped in and helped me out a lot," Portis said. "He tried to teach me like the ins and outs of basketball and in life.

"I used to cry almost every day," Portis added. "Because you know like Coach Corliss used to push me a lot in practice. He used to get in my face and would try to get something out of me."

Arkansas' only loss since Jan. 17 is a 57-56 setback at Florida.

"We have a long way to go," Portis said. "Even with our record being what it is, coach preaches every day about always staying humble and hungry. That's what we me and Mike and the guys try to do is just stay humble and hungry and just keep working."

Qualls scored in double figures for the third straight game. The junior is 17 of 34 from the field in his last three games after going 14 of 59 in his previous five.

He claims he is just 85 percent healthy from an injury suffered two weeks ago in a home win over South Carolina.

"Yeah, every game I'm trying to be at a better and better stage with my leg," Qualls said. " I'm just trying to play through it and just make it stronger. It's not going to get any better if I try to baby it or I'm timid. So tonight I tried to come out with an attack mindset."

Missouri (7-19, 1-12), which had 14 of its 20 turnovers before halftime, has lost 12 straight games for the first time since the 1966-67 season.

"I thought Arkansas did a good job of setting the tone for the game," Kim Anderson said. "Obviously the pressure hurt us, especially in the first half. I thought we settled down some in the second half. We were able to attack the basket. Ended up shooting 50 percent from the field, which is unusual for us.

"The key, I think, the key part of the game was the first half when we turned the ball over and they were able to capitalize," Anderson said. " And then offensive rebounds, second-chance points (22 to 6). Destroyed us on second-chance."

Arkansas used a 15-0 in which Missouri had 9 turnovers to jump out to to 31-19 lead, but the Tigers cut it to 37-29 by halftime.

The Razorbacks, however, ripped of the first seven points of the second half, quickly were out to a 50-32 edge and never looked back.

"The key play of the game was the first minutes of the second half,: Kim Anderson said. "I think they got two or three opportunities, we weren't able to pick up a loose ball or a rebound then all of the sudden instead of an eight-point game it's a 15-point game. As always we did some good things, we just didn't do enough. I thought our young guys, once they settled down, they played without fear for the most part and that's an encouraging sign.

Jonathan Williams and Tramaine Isabell led the Tigers with 13 points each, but Williams - who also had 10 rebounds - had a whopping 8 of his team's 20 turnovers.

"Getting the ball out of the point guard's hands," Qualls said was huge." And they was making Johnathan Williams bring the ball up for most of the game too, and that had a lot to do with it. That's exactly what we want to happen, them to try to bring the ball up with a big, that slows down their offense."

Beard continued his impressive play and has now hit 9 of his 10 shots over the past two games.

"Anton Beard you see his stat line and he just continues to play at a high level for us, shooting the basketball, distributing the basketball, and being one our leaders on the defensive side of the ball," Mike Anderson noted.

The Razorbacks shot 46.6 percent from the field, 10-of-22 from 3-point range and 20-of-31 from the free throw line while Missouri shot 50 percent from the field, hit 6-of-17 3-pointers and 11 of 15 from the free throw line.

Arkansas returns to action Saturday at Mississippi State where it will look for its sixth road game of the season.

Bobby Portis celebrates with the crowd after one of his baskets.

Michael Qualls is excited during Arkansas' 15-0 run as a timeout rolls around.

Arkansas student Brendan Oman won $5,000 by hitting a half-court shot.


Anton Beard gets his team hyped up before the game

Jacorey Williams (22) and Jabril Durham force one of Missouri's 20 turnovers.

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