FAYETTEVILLE - Apparently Las Vegas oddsmakers shared Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson’s view that last Saturday’s rematch at Missouri would be no cakewalk.
The Missouri Tigers were 5-16 overall and 0-9 in the SEC going into Saturday’s game at Mizzou Arena.
Arkansas, then 17-5 overall and a 6-3 fourth in the SEC, was riding a 5-game SEC winning streak starting with a 93-72 over victory over Missouri on Jan.14 at Walton Arena.
Yet at one point betting line favored Arkansas by just three points.
And that was too much given that the Razorbacks fell, 83-78.
Even postgame off that 92-73 romp, Anderson seemed uneasy about his Hogs played.
After Arkansas stormed to a 50-36 first half, he saw Mizzou gaining rematch confidence outscored by only five in the second half.
They had turned it over just as often as Mizzou, 14 times each, and many were “unforced,” Anderson said.
Also Arkansas committed 25 fouls to Missouri’s 20. Mizzou got to the line 32 times and sank 20.
In Columbia the Hogs lost because they turned it over 17 times and only forced 10 Missouri miscues while allowing Mizzou on the line to make 23 of 29 while themselves making only 19 of 27.
All of that added up in Missouri building a 15-point lead with 15:45 that Arkansas cut to one but couldn’t tie missing a free throw that would have tied it.
“I thought the effort was there but the execution wasn’t there,” Anderson said. “Especially when you are a team that prides yourself on taking care of the basketball and end up 17 turnovers versus 10 for Missouri. Can you imagine 23 of 29 from the free throw line. And they don’t turn the ball over and shoot over 50 percent? What came back to haunt us was those turnovers and not necessarily taking advantage of the momentum. We cut the lead to one with a chance to tie and couldn’t quite get over the hump.”
Missouri had more than a little to do with that, Mike Anderson said praising the Tigers he had coached for six years now coached by Mizzou alum Kim Anderson.
In his third year inserting a short stick from Frank Haith, the NCAA investigated successor to Mike Anderson before Kim Anderson, Kim Anderson has kept the Tigers fighting even as they struggled, Mike Anderson said.
Mike Anderson said Mizzou would have more resolve than ever coming a 39-point embarrassing loss at Florida.
“ Let’s give them credit,” Mike Anderson said in Saturday’s postgame at Columbia. “I knew this was going to be a war. I knew it was going to be a game that we had to fight to the end. We played them early in the year and you know you are going to get a better performance from them here and they did.”
In retrospect, it was almost as baffling that the Razorbacks kept it as close as they did as it was they were upset by a team that had lost 13 consecutively and not won since Dec. 6.
The Hogs not only committed 17 turnovers but got only four points and three rebounds from 6-10 senior SEC Preseason Player of the Year Moses Kingsley even while somehow outrebounding Mizzou, 33-26.
“We didn’t get much out of Moses,” Anderson said. “You come on the road you have got to get something out of your forwards or your big guys. Something was missing on this team and now we are a perimeter team. But he got in foul trouble early on and that probably threw him off kilter a little bit.”
Another senior reliable, Manuale Watkins, did much (nine points and six rebounds) to keep Arkansas in it, but Mike Anderson said, couldn’t hang on the the rebound that Mizzou’s Kevin Puryear snatched and put back in when the Hogs could have gone the other way only down two instead of down four.
Guards Jaylen Barford and Daryl Macon led Arkansas’ scoring, 23 and 15 points, but turned it over five and four times.
“He took it out of Manuale’s hands and put it back in there and before you know it the crowd is in it,” Anderson said.
“Barford and Macon as good as they played, they didn't do a very good job with the ball,” Anderson said.
To turn it around Tuesday night against Vanderbilt at Walton, they can’t keep turning it over.