COLUMBIA, Mo. – Hawgball and 40 Minutes of Hell were on display Thursday night at Mizzou Arena, but the people were pulling it off were wearing black and gold instead of red and white.
Former University of Arkansas assistant and current Missouri head coach Mike Anderson's band of Tigers forced 24 turnovers and ended up whipping the visiting Razorbacks 86-64 before an energized crowd of 5,428 fans and an ESPN2 television audience.
It was a matchup of two unbeaten teams, but a late first-half flurry made sure Missouri (8-0) would be the only team staying that way while the Razorbacks (5-1) lost their first road game after winning the Old Spice Classic in Orlando last weekend.
"I don't know where to start," Arkansas head coach Stan Heath said. "We got outworked, we got outhustled. I think our team left Orlando and felt like we had arrived. We certainly ran into an ambush tonight. I think our team is a lot better than we showed."
The Tigers forced the visitors into 18 of those turnovers in the first half, several that occurred during the last five minutes of the first half when the home team turned a 32-28 advantage into a 44-28 one by intermission.
"Arkansas is a good team, but our team really rose to the challenge tonight," Anderson said. "I always talk about our defense because they play with great energy, played unslefishly and played to win. Every guy on the floor tonight played with energy, played unselfishly and played to win."
Razorback true freshman Patrick Beverley was really the lone bright spot for the Razorbacks in that opening half with 11 points while finishing with 15 while Charles Thomas added 15 also and Sonny Weems 11.
"I think we were trying to play a little faster than we should have," Heath said. "We want to play up-tempo, we want to play fast, but we don't want to play so fast that that we lose control of what we need to be doing out there on the court."
Anderson was a 17-year assistant for Nolan Richardson at Arkansas and the interim head coach for two games after Richardson was fired, but Heath was hired instead.
"It's a great win and Arkansas is a great program," Anderson said. "I'm proud of what we did while I was there. I take some pride in this. They (the Razorbacks) have beat us the past two games and it feels good to win. There is no question about it. But I am not one of those guys that keeps worrying about the past."
Arkansas would cut it to 58-47 on Beverley's baseline jumper while being fouled with 12:46 left, but he missed the free throw and then the Razorbacks missed a follow shot that could have got it under 10.
Stefhon Hannah followed by drilling a 3-pointer - on a night when Missouri was 12-of-21 from 3-point range to boost that lead back to 61-47 with 12:24 remaining.
It would never get closer than 14 after that point and grew to 72-53 with 6:09 remaining hen Matt Lawrence hit a trio of 3-pointers over a span of three minutes.
Hannah had 21 to lead Missouri while Lawrence, 5-of-6 from 3-point land added 19 points and freshman Keon Lawrence 12 off the bench.
Matt Lawrence said he thought the Tigers got into the Razorbacks' heads early on.
"I think in the beginning we wanted to come out and give them a gut check and punch them in the stomach and knock them back a little bit," Lawrence said. "We wanted to get off to a good start and we did. They were just falling back and we were in their heads the rest of the way."
Darian Townes added 9 points and 6 rebounds for Arkansas.
Beverley was point blank in his assessment of the game.
"We will never lose like that again," Beverley said. "It was silly turnovers and not playing with pride. Our coaches got us prepared to play and we did not go out there ande execute and it is very embarrassing to all of us. We did not play Coach Heath's type of basketball, which is playing as a team. We tried to do to much as individuals."
Bevereley thinks the Razorbacks (5-1) came into this game thinking a little too much of themselves after winning the Old Spice Classic in Orlando last weekend.
"If we are going to lose again, we will lose fighting a tough battle," Beverley said. "We felt to good about ourselves coming off of our tournament win in Orlando and didn't put our all into this game when we should have."
Hannah, whose only negative was the fact he had 6 of Missouri's 16 turnovers, signed with Missouri very late in the spring signing period and has been quite the blessing for Anderson.
"I recruited him because I like his toughness and his command," Anderson said. "He's a leader. His confidence is growing and slowly but surely he is becoming a leader. He's a guy that is tailor-made for this program."
Arkansas actually jumped out to an 8-3 lead early on, but Marshall Brown's two free throws allowed Missouri s to set up their press and begin the turnover fest and a 7-0 run that gave them the lead.
The Razorbacks would go back up 15-12 when Townes scored inside with 11:47 left before intermission, but a 9-0 run by the Tigers – capped by Hannah's lay-up off a steal gave the home team a 21-15 lead that would not relinquish for the rest of the game.
Missouri opened itself a big cushion by scoring the last 12 points of opening half including a Keon Lawrence lay-up right before the halftime buzzer that sent Missouri to the break with the 44-28 lead.
Arkansas shot 41.8 percent from the game from the field and had a 36-35 advantage on the board while Missouri had 17 steals and shot 48.3 percent from the floor.
"They were sky-high," Heath said of Missouri. "It looked like Christmas in here with so many gifts. They were ready to go and fired up. We didn't match their intensity and that's my fault."
Arkansas will return to the court on Saturday when it hosts Missouri-Kansas City in a 12:05 p.m. non-televised game.
Missouri will host Evansville on Sunday.
Missouri 86, Arkansas 64
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