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Brown's late bucket sends Missouri past Arkansas

Brown's late bucket sends Missouri past Arkansas

February 13th, 2014 in News

Missouri's Ryan Rosburg, center, battles Arkansas' Coty Clarke, left, for a rebound during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, in Columbia, Mo.

Photo by The Associated Press /News Tribune.

COLUMBIA, Mo. - Jabari Brown just might have saved the Missouri Tigers' season.

Down a point with the clock winding down, the junior guard drove the lane, spun and connected on a mid-range floater with 12.2 seconds left Thursday night to hand Missouri an 86-85 victory against Arkansas at Mizzou Arena.

"I didn't want to settle for a jumper," Brown said of his game-winning play. "I wanted to try to get a shot going toward the basket. I was able to get a pretty good shot."

The circumstances for Brown's game-winner were a little peculiar. With Mardracus Wade sticking to Missouri point guard Jordan Clarkson like white on rice, Clarkson decided to stay in the backcourt. Wade stayed with him, leaving a four-on-four situation.

"I just made a decision to stay back because then there was going to be nobody to help on Jabari's drive or whatever he's going to do," Clarkson said.

With ample space, Brown took it to the hole.

"He could not have made that play last year," Missouri head coach Frank Haith said. "He's gotten so much better of going off the bounce, where he was a catch-and-shoot guy (last year)."

Arkansas had one last chance to win it. Rashad Madden attempted to drive to the basket, was cut off by Clarkson and Ryan Rosburg and forced up a mid-range jumper that didn't come all that close to going in the hoop.

"We had the ball going down the stretch and we thought we had a good look in terms of (Madden) going to the basket," Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson said. "... We gave ourselves a chance. We wanted to draw a foul or get to the basket. The ball just didn't bounce our way."

Not only did Brown keep Missouri's NCAA Tournament hopes alive, he saved the Tigers from an ignominious loss. The Tigers led 83-75 with 3:40 to play before Arkansas rattled off 10 straight points to take the lead.

"Basketball is a game of runs and we know that you want to have the run at the right time and our guys hung in there," Anderson said.

Brown finished with 25 points while connecting on 14-of-15 free throws, just behind Jordan Clarkson's game-high 27. Earnest Ross added 15 points and 11 rebounds.

"We didn't have an answer for him," Anderson said of Brown. "I mean, look at the stats, they tell it all."

This one looked more like a free-throw shooting contest than a basketball game. The teams combined for 75 free throws and 50 fouls in a contest that lasted nearly 2 1/2 hours.

"It does make it difficult to get in any kind of rhythm, but with that said, I thought it was a well-played basketball game," Haith said. "I thought it was a high-level game and great intensity. Both teams played hard."

Missouri tied a school record with 23 straight free-throw makes at one point, while setting a new benchmark with 27 straight makes over a two-game stretch. Missouri made 40 straight free throws against Arkansas dating back to the Jan. 28 game in Fayetteville, Ark. The Tigers finished a whopping 34-of-38 (89.5 percent) from the foul line Thursday, while Arkansas shot 29-of-37 (78.4 percent).

"We had the right guys going to the line tonight. We work at that and I think we're one of the better free-throw shooting teams in the league," Haith said while knocking on the table for good luck. Missouri does in fact lead the league in free-throw shooting during Southeastern Conference games, connecting at a 75.6 percent clip.

Clarkson went 11-of-13 from the charity stripe, while Ross went 5-of-6. Rosburg and Wes Clark connected on two attempts each.

"We're a good 3-point shooting team, but we can also drive the ball," Haith said. "When we have games that we don't get to the free-throw line, that's quite unusual. We get to the line and attack off the bounce, that's who we are."

After the teams exchanged runs early on, seven straight points from Brown - capped by a deep 3 from the right wing - gave Missouri a 39-33 advantage with 4:15 to play in the first half. Brown tallied 10 points during a 12-2 run that gave the Tigers a 44-35 lead late in the half. Missouri held a 48-42 edge at the intermission, helped by Brown's 16 points.

A 3-pointer from Ross and a layup from Rosburg gave Missouri its largest lead at 53-42. Down 63-55, Arkansas' Alandise Harris scored eight straight points to tie the game with 11:32 left.

Arkansas later took a 71-67 lead on two alley-oop dunks from Michael Qualls on consecutive possessions with 9:06 to go.

Missouri then rattled off nine straight as part of a 14-2 run to put the Tigers ahead 81-73.

After pair of free throws from Clarkson handed Missouri an 83-75 edge with 3:40 to play, Arkansas scored the next 10 points to take the lead with 1:11 to play. Clarkson missed the second of two foul shots with 54 seconds left, leaving Arkansas up 85-84. Arkansas stepped out of bounds on the ensuing possession, setting up Brown's heroics.

"I thought our guys made some big plays," Haith said. We had two big stops down the stretch. Jabari's shot was huge."

Madden paced Arkansas (15-9, 4-7 SEC) with 17 points. Harris poured in 16, Bobby Portis chipped in with 15, Coty Clarke added 12 and Qualls had 10.

Missouri (17-7, 5-6 SEC) hopes to continue to build its at-large resume when it hosts Tennessee at 3 p.m. Saturday.

"It keeps us going in the right direction," Brown said. "We have seven more games and we're trying to get all seven of them. We're going to take them one at a time and we've got a good Tennessee team coming in here."

Related video:

Mizzou Network: Missouri vs. Arkansas game highlights