At Bud Walton Arena on Saturday, it was the Jeremiah Tilmon and Xavier Pinson show.
The combination of Pinson and Tilmon both opened and closed the game with lobs in the paint as Tilmon was able to exploit the middle of the Arkansas defense. Things got started with a bang when Pinson found Tilmon for an early lob that set the tone for the rest of the game. In the post-game, Cuonzo Martin even pinpointed the lob as a defining moment in the game, “When X made that first lob, I think it opened [the game] up.” Behind the lethal Pinson-Tilmon combination, the Tigers took it to the Razorbacks on their home floor, but it wasn’t always smooth sailing.
The Tigers got out to an early lead thanks to strong defense and a heavy dose of Jeremiah Tilmon. At the second media timeout, Tilmon’s 8 was outpacing the Razorbacks’ total 7 points as a team. However, that didn’t last long as Arkansas came out of the timeout and scored a quick 5 points to cut the Mizzou lead to just two, but Tilmon answered again with a 3-point play to give the Tigers momentary breathing room.
Jeremiah Tilmon continued his strong performance for the entirety of the game, but the talented freshman Moses Moody anchored an Arkansas team that refused to go away for a majority of the game despite a 24% shooting performance in the first half.
Even with such poor Razorback shooting, Mizzou took just a 33-30 lead into the half. 12 Tiger turnovers enabled the Razorbacks to keep it close and overcome their shooting woes.
While they did turn it over 12 times in the first half, the Tigers did exorcise some of their shooting demons from the Tennessee game as they went into the locker room shooting 45% as a team (they would finish at a 47% clip). However, the turnovers and 7 missed FTs prevented the Tigers from having a more comfortable lead early.
When the second half started, it was more of the same. Neither team went on a big run and they often exchanged baskets when they were making them. For the Tigers, Tilmon continued to do the heavy lifting, but Xavier Pinson began to get in on the action as Dru Smith and Kobe Brown struggled with foul trouble.
A breakthrough came for the Tigers at the under-8 timeout when they held the Razorbacks without a FG for four straight minutes. In that span, Mizzou stretched out their lead to the largest of the game, 12 points.
With four minutes to play, the Tigers still maintaining a commanding lead, and stretched it out to 18 following an ejection and two technical fouls that were called on Arkansas coach Eric Musselman. Musselman went on quite the tirade across Nolan Richardson Court berating each referee individually for a lack of foul calls before he finally was escorted off the floor.
Following their coach's ejection, the Hogs came out motivated going on an 8-0 run to make it just a 10-point game with 1:54 to play. However, the late surge from Arkansas was too little, too late, and Mizzou was able to polish off an 81-68 win over the previously unbeaten Razorbacks.
Tilmon and Pinson finished with 25 and 23, respectively, and Jeremiah added 11 rebounds to his scoring outburst. After the game, Cuonzo Martin said, “Off the top of my head I would say it’s his best game [of his career],” about Tilmon’s performance. Jeremiah added, “I felt like the game was just coming to me.”