Haith animated in Missouri men's basketball team's victory over Arkansas

Tuesday, March 5, 2013 | 8:21 p.m. CST; updated 11:31 p.m. CST, Tuesday, March 5, 2013
The Missouri men's basketball team beat Mike Anderson's Arkansas team 93-63 on Tuesday night. It was the final home game of the season for the Tigers, who won all 17 of their games at Mizzou Arena this season.

COLUMBIA — Frank Haith gently put his jacket onto a court-side seat eleven minutes into the game.

After that, the Missouri men's basketball coach looked as if he might enter the game as a player.

With all of the agitation coming from Haith, it would be easy to think the Tigers were struggling, but the score indicated otherwise.

Missouri easily secured a 93-63 victory over Arkansas on Tuesday night in the Tigers' final regular season home game at Mizzou Arena.

Haith's team led the Razorbacks 48-22 at halftime, even with 10 turnovers. Accurate shooting from Missouri guard Jabari Brown, who had 13 points in the first half and 23 in the game, and strong defense put Missouri ahead early.

"It was just an intense game in terms of we needed to get a conference win," Haith said. "It's March, so everybody's battling this time of year."

At one point in the first half, Haith stretched his arms wide and got low shuffling side to side as he watched guard Earnest Ross defend an Arkansas ball handler. Ross ended up stealing the ball on the play, running to the other side of the court before getting fouled attempting a layup.

Haith put his whole body into a spirited fist pump celebrating a 3-pointer from point guard Phil Pressey, his gold tie flying over his shoulders.

In his most passionate moment the Missouri coaching staff had to hold Haith back as he seemingly shouted angry words over at Mike Anderson across the court during a timeout.

Both coaches later said it was because of a miscommunication, and that they sorted it out after the game.

"I thought it was a miscommunication," Haith said. "I was emotional for my team, and I was encouraging my team, and he thought I was saying something else. But I was only talking to my team."

Senior forward Alex Oriakhi welcomed Haith's attitude but was also surprised by it.

"Coach is an emotional guy," Oriakhi said. "I definitely think we feed off that. I looked at him on the side, and I didn't really recognize him. That's the most emotional I've ever seen him."

By halftime, Haith had calmed himself down, and with his tight-fitting jacket back on he stood still on the sideline for most of the second half. The tie stayed on as well.

Haith might have cooled off, but his players stayed aggressive.

The Tigers used a host of flashy passes and dunks that left the sellout crowd of 15,061 that included NASCAR driver Carl Edwards with their hands on their heads in amazement.

Ross passed behind his back in midair to find senior forward Laurence Bowers for a dunk. Guard Negus Webster-Chan found Bowers for another one-handed dunk a few minutes later.

Bowers led the Tigers in his final home game with 24 points and 11 rebounds. Fellow senior Alex Oriakhi had 10 points and eight rebounds, and senior guard Keion Bell had eight points.

"He's the leader of our team," Bell said of Bowers. "Everybody on our roster looks up to him, for one of our best players to be playing so well, propelling us to the tournament."

Bowers reflected on his performance.

"This was the way I wanted to go out," Bowers said. "We got the win … my senior night was a success."

The win helped Missouri (22-8, 11-6 in the Southeastern Conference) secure a 17-0 record this season at Mizzou Arena. Missouri plays its final regular-season game Saturday at Tennessee.

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