Doc nailed it in the postgame write-up. The close-but-no-cigar mess is getting a little tired. Tuesday night Arkansas again failed to finish a game in which it led in the final four minutes.
Over those final four minutes, Missouri went 3-of-4 from the field with the lone miss being Jordan Clarkson's jumper that Earnest Ross rebounded before hitting the decisive three with 1:08 left out of the timeout. Missouri connected on all 10 free throw attempts in the final four minutes, and all eight following Ross' three-pointer.
Ross' three pointer was actually Missouri's last field goal attempt, because for some unknown reason, Coty Clarke fouled Earnest Ross down three with 46 seconds left instead of playing out the shot clock and getting a stop. The Tigers would then seal the game at the foul line.
The loss was Arkansas' second home conference loss, which many think is enough to keep Arkansas out of the NCAA Tournament if they don't have a magical stretch run. Missouri winning in Bud Walton Arena also put an end to something else:
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Well, I think Missouri effectively put an end to my theory of only Final 4 teams winning in BWA...</p>— Scottie Bordelon (@gsbordelon) <a href="https://twitter.com/gsbordelon/statuses/428368249407815680">January 29, 2014</a></blockquote>
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Here are some things I found interesting in the box score:
- 0-of-4 – Anthlon Bell from deep. Bell's only made one shot – a floater from the baseline. His +/- for the game was -5 and he only played nine minutes. He missed on all four of his three-point attempts in the first half, leading to Michael Qualls starting in his place after halftime and him not seeing the floor in the second half. Anderson can't afford to have him on the floor if he's not knocking down shots.
- 1.000 – Arkansas' points per possession. Arkansas scored 71 points on 71 possessions. It's not terrible, but it's not good, either. The Hogs offense Tuesday was rather road-gamish if you look at the stats (.988 PPP on the road this season). For some perspective, Creighton is tops in the nation in offensive efficiency at 1.204 PPP.
- 2 – Number of made two-point field goals in the first half. Yes, you read that right. Arkansas stayed in the game in the first half by knocking down eight shots from beyond the arc. Arkansas was 2-of-10 from inside the arc in the first half. If someone has an explanation for this, please let me know.
- 5-of-6, 12 points, 2-of-2 FTs – Bobby Portis' second half shooting numbers. Portis finished the game 6-of-9 from the floor with 16 points, 12 coming in the second half. Portis made the second half's opening bucket, and the final bucket of the game, a meaningless tip-in. He was also key in bringing Arkansas back from the 10-point deficit in the second half. But in my opinion, and as Mike Anderson said postgame, Arkansas didn't do a good job of finding Portis on the block. He could have taken Ryan Rosburg to the basket. He did on one occasion. But the ball didn't find his hands enough for my liking, especially when the outside shots weren't falling and Arkansas desperately needed an inside presence.
- 6 – Fred Gulley's assist total. He continues to play good basketball and, most importantly, take care of the ball. Gulley finished with just one turnover. His play of late has been severely overlooked. Remember, Gulley along with Ky Madden took control of the Auburn game in the second half. He has also been a streaky scorer in conference play, scoring 7 straight against Kentucky, and eight straight against Georgia and Auburn, all in the second half, but had no such luck against Missouri.
- 16-of-16 – Missouri's second half FTs. They closed out the game like good teams do. Give them some credit.
- 19 – The number of Missouri turnovers. Arkansas had 23 points off those 19 turnovers, but Missouri overcame it thanks to a very healthy rebounding advantage, particularly on the offensive glass.
- 20 – Ky Madden's point total. It was his fourth game this season reaching the 20-point plateau. Who would have thought coming into the season that Madden would be the leader of this team at any point? For me, it shows tremendous growth and and a great deal of development. We're finally seeing the dog in Ky come out after two subpar years, and it's been a lot of fun to witness first hand. Right now, Ky is looking at an All-SEC selection if he finishes strong.
- 22 and 19 – The number of FTs Missouri made - the number of FTs Arkansas shot. If you get outshot from the foul line at home, you're asking for trouble. And that's just what Missouri did. They closed out the game by making all 16 second half free throws, 10 in the final four minutes of action. It's probably never good to finish a game with more attempted threes than free throws. Just a hunch.
- 24 – Earnest Ross and Jabari Brown's point totals. Coming into last night, the real scoring duo was Jordan Clarkson and Jabari Brown. Clarkson did a majority of his damage in the first half, but Ross and Brown took over the second half for Missouri. Like I said during the game, those two are matchup nightmares.
- 35 – Points Ross and Brown scored in the second half. Together they combined for all but four of Missouri's second half points. They were also the only Tiger players with made field goals in the final period. The other four points came from Clarkson and Johnathan Williams at the free throw line.
- 42-26 – The final rebounding tally. Arkansas was flat out obliterated on the glass last night, there's no way around it. People will point to this as a reason why Arkansas lost, but Arkansas was in the game late despite the rebound margin. They key was Ross' offensive rebound with just over a minute to go. And I don't know how many times it needs to be said, but Mike Anderson-coached teams aren't going to win the rebound battle often. His style doesn't play to out-rebound teams. Arkansas wins games by keeping the rebound margin close, and occasionally out-rebounding a team.