Missouri State 62, Arkansas 57

Missouri State takes advantage of every second and its fans storm the court after the Bears down the University of Arkansas 62-57 Saturday night in the first-ever game at the John Q. Hammons Arena.

SPRINGFIELD, MO. – Another visit to Springfield for the University of Arkansas basketball program resulted in some extra time being put back on the clock.

Just like 32 years ago when it last helped open a new arena in this Missouri city.

But this time, the school now called Missouri State got out of its own building with a win – one that had fans storming the court after the first-ever game at the new $67 million John Q. Hammons Arena.

Chris Cooks scored inside with 18.7 seconds left after a second was put back on the shot clock as the Bears were scoring the last six points of the game to down the Razorbacks 62-57 before 10,285 fans at "The Q".

"I'm not going to make excuses for these guys," Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey said. "We're not going to use the crowd, the new building. This won't be the last time we'll play in a difficult building. We put ourselves in position to win and didn't. That's reality."

Arkansas rallied from a 12-point second half deficit to take the lead on several occassions, but couldn't put the game away after grabbing its last lead with 1:41 remaining.

It was somewhat reminiscent of a Dec. 1, 1976 game in Springfield in which Arkansas thought it had won 70-69, went to the locker room and had to come back out when the official put 7 seconds back on the clock.

Jim Counce's two free throws and a meaningless Southwest Missouri State basket turned into a 72-71 "replay" win for the Razorbacks in the first game in what was called the Hammons Student Center.

The win on this night for Missouri State was one that new Bears' coach Cuonzo Martin said his players will remember forever.

"To play in a game like this, before a crowd like this is something that you will always remember as a player," Martin said. "Twenty years down the line they will talk about what a great atmosphere it was."

Rotnei Clarke had 19 points and Courtney Fortson 10 on this night to lead the Razorbacks (2-1), who trailed by 34-22 in the second half but rallied to take the lead.

Stefan Welsh's free throws gave Arkansas a 57-56 lead with 1:41 left.

But Wade Knapp's basket with 1:08 remaining gave the lead back to Missouri State (2-1), who were led by Kyle Weems' 16 points and Chris Cooks' 15.

The Razorbacks suffered their own turnover but then thought they had forced a Missouri State shot clock violation with 19.5 seconds left.

The referees reviewed the play on television, added a half-second to the game clock and 1 second to the shot clock.

Cooks then got loose inside for a lay-up that gave his team a 60-57 lead with 18.7 left.

It was a in-bounds play that Martin used to run as a player at Purdue, but his Missouri State team had not even practiced.

"All of a sudden I see one second on the shot clock and I thought let's try it," Martin said. "I knew Cooks was strong enough and tough enough to set the screen and then make the roll."

Pelphrey didn't question the clock development, but was incensed that his team let the Bears off the hook.

"We put three guys on one and five on two," Pelphrey said of his player not executing the defense. "It's unexplainable, it's excusable, it's just wrong."

The Bears then forced a jump, took possession and got out of their new building with the win.

Missouri State shot just 40.7 percent from the field, but knocked down 9 3-pointers while Arkansas was hitting 43.2 percent of its shots, but only 4 3-pointers.

The Razorbacks hit 15-of-24 free throws while the Bears were 9-of-16.

Arkansas played without freshman small forward Jason Henry.

"Jason is home, a violation of team rules," Pelphrey said. "I don't know how long it (his suspension) will be in terms of the length of it."

Arkansas went over 10 minutes without a field goal in the first half with Michael Sanchez noting his team didn't come out with enough passion.

When told of that, it set off Pelphrey.

"That's the most embarrasing thing that you can say," Pelphrey said. "If that's true, never tell the world that. That is the wrong thing to say."

Arkansas looked dead and buried just a few minutes after intermission, which ended with Missouri State leading 28-20 on the strength of a 17-3 run to end the half.

But down 34-22, Clarke heated up with a pair of 3-pointers and a lay-up and then Fortson's lay-up cut it to 37-34 with 14:23 left in the game.

Arkansas kept coming, eventually tying the game 42-42 on Michael Washington's slam with 11:36 left in the game.

The Razorbacks then took the lead when Clarke rebounded his own shot and banked it in for a 48-46 advantage at the 6:31 mark.

The teams then switched the lead four times with three consecutive free throws by Welsh (on two trips down the court) giving Arkansas a 57-56 lead with just 1:41 remaining.

Washington, Welsh and Michael Sanchez all added 8 points for the Razorbacks, who will be back on the road Wednesday for a game at South Alabama.

Sanchez, who had 12 rebounds in his first two games, had 11 against Missouri State.


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