A week removed from taking down then-No. 19 Kentucky, Missouri fell on the road against No. 13 Arkansas, 74-68, in Fayetteville’s Bud Walton Arena.
After building a 17-point lead in the opening minutes of the game, the Tigers lost their momentum on both ends of the floor. Ricky Council IV’s 25 points and seven rebounds led the way for Arkansas, and the Hogs out-rebounded Missouri 40-23 and scored 17 second-chance points as a result.
However, it was business as usual for Missouri to begin this game. The Tigers jumped out to a 25-8 lead with 9:31 left in the first half thanks to efficient shooting and defensive activity. They shot 45% from the floor and Arkansas gave the ball away ten times in the opening half. The Tigers’ zone especially had Arkansas stumped.
On top of all of that, the Tigers built their lead (largely) without the services of leading scorer Kobe Brown. He picked up his second foul at the 16:16 mark of the first half and sat until there was 4:08 left before halftime.
The Razorbacks responded with an 11-4 run in the middle of the half, cutting the lead to ten. They did so thanks to second-chance opportunities (they finished the half with ten offensive rebounds), because they were not shooting the ball a high rate. They shot a brutal 2-for-12 from three-point range in the opening half and struggled from the floor as a team.
Missouri (12-2, 1-1) extended the lead back out to fifteen, but Arkansas won the final three minutes of the half. They cut the lead to seven and lit a fire in Bud Walton Arena before heading to the locker room trailing 34-27. A just-missed opportunity for D’Moi Hodge a few tenths after the buzzer sounded would have made it only 5, but it didn’t count.
Still, Missouri largely dominated the first half, picking up where they left off against Kentucky. Sean East II led the way with nine points, and the team as a whole shot well from the floor, finishing 4-for-9 from three-point land. However, ending the half on a 2:56 scoring drought did hurt the team’s momentum.
That lost momentum hurt the Tigers coming out of the break. Arkansas opened the second half on a 10-4 scoring run and seemed to stun Missouri while igniting their home crowd.
After Nick Honor made a three-pointer to extend the Tiger lead to five, the Razorbacks took control of this game. They pushed the ball in transition, putting the visiting team on its heels en route to claiming a 46-42 lead with 12:55 remaining in the game. Missouri made 1-of-11 field goal attempts to start the half.
Ricky Council IV led the second-half run for Arkansas. He scored 21 points in the half and began to hunt his shot whenever he got the ball. After staving off a quick Missouri run in response, Council’s aggressiveness allowed the Hogs to jump out to a 56-48 lead with 8:45 left in the game.
Brown picked up back-to-back fouls at the 7:25 and 6:31 mark to make it four on the night, forcing him to the bench. From there, Missouri remained within striking distance, in large part thanks to them getting into the bonus with 5:41 left in the half.
Honor went to the free throw line with a chance to cut the lead to two with 27 seconds left, but he split the shots. The Razorbacks closed the game out from the free throw line. Specifically, Council IV hit six of them to end the night at Bud Walton Arena.
After building a 25-8 lead in the opening minutes, Missouri went ice cold as a team. They finished shooting 44% from the floor, but their 2-for-10 effort from behind the arc in the second half really hurt the flow of the offense. D’Moi Hodge did not make a shot from behind the arc for the first this season.
Without Council IV, however, Arkansas may not have been able to rally in this game. His second half heroics pushed the Razorbacks to a victory, as he shot 5-for-9 from the field in the half. Missouri’s defense was put in a bind trying to figure out who could contain him.
In addition, Dennis Gates will likely take note of the rebounding margin in this game and be ready for the rematch in a few weeks. The Razorbacks out-rebounded Missouri by 17 and reeled in 15 offensive rebounds. The previously mentioned 17 second-chance points weighed heavily on the outcome of this game.
Missouri will host Vanderbilt (8-6, 1-1) this Saturday, Jan. 7 at 11 a.m. CST. The game can be seen on CBS.