COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Missouri’s worst conference losing streak in school history just ended on Saturday night against the same opponent as when it began.
Jordan Barnett scored 17 points and K.J. Walton added 16, helping Missouri beat Arkansas 83-78.
Kevin Puryear had 15 points and eight rebounds, and Cullen Van Leer scored 12 points.
“We’re all tired of moral victories,” Puryear said. “There are some times where we don’t play to win, we just play to stay close … It was just time for us to buckle down and make winning plays, and we did that, and it was great.”
Jaylen Barford had 23 points and Daryl Macon added 15 for Arkansas (17-6, 9-4), which steadily clawed its way back from a 13-point, halftime deficit, taking advantage of Missouri’s poor shooting. The Tigers made just 2 of 11 3-point attempts in the second half, allowing Arkansas to mount several runs, including a 14-5 run that lasted 5:19.
Missouri never surrendered its lead, exploiting Arkansas’ foul trouble to get to the free-throw line and close out the game. Missouri made 23 of 29 free-throw attempts, including 12 of 15 in the second half.
“I thought we did a good job of taking care of the basketball,” Missouri coach Kim Anderson said. “And the big thing is, when you make shots, you win games, and we made shots. We made the shots that we had been missing. We made the easy shots. We made the open shots … I’m happy for these guys.”
“We got behind in the first half but to the credit of our guys I thought they fought scratched and clawed themselves back into the game,” Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said. “We never could tie it or get the lead. That puts a different perspective on the game. To their credit they kept grinding it out, they kept scratching … It seemed like they found some extra energy going and getting all those loose balls going down the stretch.”
Arkansas: This loss snapped the Razorbacks’ conference-best five-game winning streak, which included road wins at LSU and Vanderbilt. Arkansas had won its previous six games against Missouri, including three straight in Columbia.
Missouri: This was the Tigers’ first SEC victory since defeating South Carolina 72-67 on Feb. 16, 2016, snapping a 14-game conference losing streak, the longest such streak in school history.
Down 80-76 with 49 seconds remaining, Arkansas’ Macon was called for an offensive foul as the Razorbacks were establishing their half-court offense. That ignited the home crowd and shifting momentum toward Missouri.
Arkansas’ leading rebounder Moses Kingsley was limited to 23 minutes with foul trouble and finished with just four points and two rebounds. He was charged with a technical foul for shoving Missouri’s Frankie Hughes in frustration after an offensive foul call with 8:29 remaining in the first half.
RALLY FOR RHYAN
Mizzou Arena hosted its second-annual “Rally for Rhyan” to raise money and bring awareness to pediatric cancer research in support of Rhyan Loos, the 6-year old daughter of Missouri assistant coach Brad Loos, who has been battling neuroblastoma for over a year and a half. Last year, Missouri defeated Tennessee 75-64 following the first “Rally for Rhyan” which raised over $50,000. Brad Loos spoke at half court during a special halftime ceremony, thanking a crowd of over 11,000 for its donations and support.
“Today is important to our family for many different reasons,” Loos said. “Mainly because it signifies to us and to the world how much this community really does care about pediatric cancer … Please give because we are close. We will find a cure and we will beat this dreaded disease.”