Arkansas started quickly in its first game at Mizzou Arena.
The Razorbacks jumped to a 6-0 lead. After scoring their first basket of the game, the Razorbacks used a full-court press to get two straight turnovers and converted both.
Missouri coach Quin Snyder called an early timeout at 18:22 to put freshman point guard Jason Horton into the game.
Horton broke the press and it was far less effective throughout the game, but even though the Tigers could get the ball across midcourt they had trouble scoring.
“We did a better job after those first couple minutes of beating the pressure,” Snyder said. “We started the game giving them a couple of easy baskets. I thought we did get more comfortable we just didn’t put the ball in the hole.”
Field-goal woes: Missouri had trouble hitting any kind of shot all night, but the beginning of the first half was the worst for the Tigers.
Missouri’s first field goal of the game came at 12:20. Missouri finished the game 17-57 with only three 3-pointers. The team also shot 56 percent from the free-throw line. Snyder said the Tigers’ shooting was probably more troublesome for his players than himself.
“We’ve got guys that have some shots that are open and feel like they’re making them and some balls that hang on the rim,” Snyder said.
Snyder said the shooting problems didn’t worry him because the Tigers started guarding well. He said solid defense would eventually result in points when the offense gets more comfortable.
Protecting the perimeter: Missouri played strong defense, especially on the perimeter. The Tigers allowed the Razorbacks only one 3-pointer and that didn’t come until late in the second half. Sophomore guard Thomas Gardner said defense has been a focus every day in practice.
“We’ve been trying to guard the long ones,” Gardner said. “Also communicating on defense, tonight I think we did that well. We took away the 3-point shot.”
Big battle: Arkansas center Steven Hill bothered the Tigers in the low post. Hill grabbed only two rebounds in his 17 minutes of playing time but swatted away four Tiger shots.
Hill’s blocks did not deter sophomore forward Linas Kleiza. Midway through the second half, Kleiza received the ball down low and took it directly at Hill. As Kleiza went up for a dunk Hill got a hand on the ball and attempted yet another block. However, Kleiza powered through Hill, pushed him back to the basket and finished the dunk while drawing a foul.
“I think it was just the right play at that moment,” Kleiza said. “I didn’t want to get my shot blocked so I just had to put it home and dunk it.”
Ferguson hurt: Tiger center Jeffrey Ferguson sat out against Arkansas. Snyder said Ferguson has a torn meniscus in his right knee.
He said he was unsure of whether the injury would require surgery or if it was something Ferguson could play through. There was no time frame for Ferguson’s return, but Snyder said there would probably be one soon.