FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Missouri’s second field goal was easy on the eye. Jarron Coleman got into trouble under the basket with two Arkansas defenders around him. Coleman faked a shot, turned and found Kobe Brown for the layup with a behind-the-back bounce pass.

Great awareness. Superb find. Good finish.

If only the Tigers had more of that.

Missouri (7-8, 1-2 SEC) was on the wrong end of yet another beating, only hitting one field goal in the first 12 minutes — a 3-pointer from Trevon Brazile — and just two others in the first half. Arkansas (11-5, 1-3) controlled the game from the moment Jaylin Williams won the opening tip in its 87-43 win over the Tigers on Wednesday night. Missouri finished the first half shooting 12% from the field and finished the night at 29.2%.

“Tough night,” Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin said. “I think it’s safe to say I didn’t see that coming.”

It was the Tigers’ second-worst offensive showing in a half this season, only behind the 14 points they scored in the first half at Liberty. To the uneducated eye, there would be no indication that Missouri was coming off an upset of a top-15 team in the country and that the Razorbacks had lost five of six games coming into it.

“I just felt like, to (Arkansas’) credit, they had us on our heels from the start of the game,” Martin said. “We could never recover.”

It wasn’t close. Not even remotely. There wasn’t a meaningful aspect of the game the Razorbacks didn’t control.

“They out-toughed us the whole night,” Missouri guard Javon Pickett said.

Any hope that the Tigers’ upset over then-No. 15 Alabama provided much-needed momentum was stomped out in Fayetteville. It more closely resembled an early-season buy game for the Razorbacks than an SEC contest.

It was a horrendous performance from MU. Even so, Arkansas’ improvements over previous games shouldn’t go unnoticed.

The Razorbacks were unrecognizable on the defensive end, forcing 23 turnovers and scoring 26 points off those.

On the offensive end, their 87 points were the most they’ve scored since their 86-66 win over Charlotte on Dec. 7. JD Notae led all scorers with 19 points, while Trey Wade had his best performance in an Arkansas uniform with 17 points.

“Wow. We guarded the 3 and we guarded the rim. It can happen,” Arkansas coach Eric Musselman said with a laugh. “But you gotta have all five guys doing exactly what you’re supposed to do. … We know that games like this don’t happen often. I can’t remember a league game in any league I’ve ever coached where a team played so well for 40 minutes.”

Even with those improvements, it doesn’t change the fact that Wednesday was the worst Missouri has performed in recent memory. The loss was the Tigers’ worst conference defeat since 2015, when they lost 86-37 to Kentucky under Kim Anderson.

For the Razorbacks, it was their largest SEC win since a 115-58 drubbing of Mississippi State in 1993.

Missouri had five players finish with zero points and one — Yaya Keita — finish with zero minutes played. Only Coleman and Pickett finished with double-digit scoring figures with 11 and 12, respectively. After a career-high 30 points against Alabama and SEC Player of the Week honors, Kobe Brown only scored six.

“That was, in a nutshell, it was basically just shrinking the floor to our best abilities and making sure we had the elbows and boxes covered whenever (Brown) had the ball in his hands,” Musselman said.

In games against their border rivals — Kansas, Illinois and Arkansas — the Tigers have lost by a combined 106 points. Missouri has not won a true road game this season, falling to 0-4 away from home.

“You need to get better, you need to be able to handle the pressure,” Martin said. “Continue to get better on both sides of the basketball.”

The SEC has seen better Arkansas teams. It has certainly seen better — far better — Missouri teams. This season, the conference is very top-heavy, with the likes of Auburn and Kentucky carrying the reputation for teams like the Tigers.

With all that weight on the top, Missouri needs to find a way to avoid being crushed on the bottom. If Wednesday’s nightmare in Fayetteville is anything to go by, the answers to that are extraordinarily far away.

“We’ll watch film. We don’t necessarily, probably in this case, watch the whole game because we have a turnaround,” Martin said. “We’ll watch the things that we need to see.”

Whatever film is watched, whatever plays are broken down and studied, it was another horrid night in a season of lows for a team that was once ranked No. 10 in the country last season. Whether comparing last season’s Missouri team to this one is fair is up for debate, but the Tigers are only two defeats away from last season’s total — 10.

That is a feat they will almost certainly pass ... and very possibly in the near future.

If there was ever a positive to take from a beating like this, and it is one hell of a stretch, at least Martin and the Tigers will get to watch that Coleman assist in the film session.

  • Missouri soccer and men's basketball beat writer, Fall 2021. Reach me at anthony.kristensen17@gmail.com, or in the newsroom at 882-5700.

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