Missouri tried its best to disguise a poor shooting night.
It almost worked.
Despite struggling from the field and from the line, the Tigers put themselves in position to pull out a victory. But Arkansas removed the veil and snatched a 62-52 win Tuesday at Mizzou Arena.
“We didn’t make the plays that we had to make,” Missouri coach Quin Snyder said. “You look at the shot chart in the second half, and I don’t think that we made a shot other than a lay in. We missed quite a few lay ins and free throws as well.”
Missouri (4-4) has struggled shooting the ball this season, but this was its worst outing.
The Tigers shot a season-low 30 percent from the field and went 0-for-9 from the 3-point line in the second half.
Missouri finished the game shooting 16 percent from behind the arc and 55 percent from the free-throw line.
“It sounds pretty rudimentary but it’s pretty tough to win if you’re 3-for-19 at the 3,” Snyder said. “I don’t think that tells the whole story, either. I think there was a lot of mid-range stuff and a lot of stuff around the rim where we just came away (with nothing).”
The epitome of the Tigers’ struggles came with three minutes left.
Trailing 47-44, Missouri sophomore Thomas Gardner stole an inbounds pass but missed the layup.
The squandered opportunity led to a five-point swing as Arkansas (6-1) scored on its next possession, making it 50-44.
Missouri never got closer than four as it struggled from the free-throw line, connecting on 3-of-6 chances in final four minutes.
“There’s nothing you can do about it,” senior Jason Conley said. “All you can do is keep going hard to the hole, and eventually the basketball gods will help us.”
In the second half, the second of two alley-oop dunks involving Arkansas’ Ronnie Brewer spelled the end for Missouri.
Brewer, who led all scorers with 20 points, found Olu Famutimi cutting to the basket for a dunk with two minutes left to give the Razorbacks a 55-48 lead. Early in the half, Brewer was on the receiving end of an alley-oop pass.
“They kept fighting and fighting and fighting,” Arkansas coach Stan Heath said. “So the game kind of hung in the balance until the very end.”
Sophomore Linas Kleiza was the lone Tiger who made a field goal in the final six minutes. Kleiza finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds.
Gardner finished with four points on 2-for-10 shooting. Jimmy McKinney also had four points on 1-for-8 shooting.
“It was dead-open shots, just looks you dream of, but we just couldn’t put them in the basket,” McKinney said.
After going almost the first six minutes of the second half without a field goal, Missouri’s defense helped it stay close.
The Tigers forced turnovers on two straight possessions and trimmed the lead to 31-30. Two possessions later, Arkansas was looking to take a five-point lead when Missouri freshman Kalen Grimes blocked a shot, and Conley took the ball the length of the court for a layup.
Missouri faced similar difficulties in the first half, going the first eight minutes without a field goal.
“The first part of the first and second halves we were getting some open shots,” Snyder said.
“Those are the shots that you need to take and obviously you need to make if you want to win.”