FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) Cuonzo Martin was known as a physical player when he played for Purdue in the early 1990s. His Missouri Tigers must have looked like one of his teams on Saturday.
The No. 12 Tigers work their way to a landslide victory at Arkansas, 81-68, with an old-school post game and tough challenges.
” Our DNA is defense,” Martin said. “You have to have some guys in that locker room who have some value, some toughness.”
Jeremiah Timon, the 6-foot-10, 260-pound center for Missouri, found life on the inside easy against unmanned Arkansas. He scored a career-high 25 points on 9-of-13 shooting and grabbed 11 rebounds as the Razorbacks had no one to answer him on the block.
Arkansas (9-1, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) was left without Justin Smith, its regular starting inside player, after Smith injured his ankle in Wednesday’s win at Auburn. The team announced that he would lose three to six weeks after surgery. The 11.6 points missing and 7.1 rebounds he averaged were remarkable.
Missouri (7-1, 1-1) out rebounded Arkansas 51-36, outscored the Razorbacks 34-22 in the paint and forced them to shoot 27% from the field. Every breakthrough attempt by the Arkansas Guards and Wings was met with a body, as 57 fouls were called during the 40 minutes.
Arkansas coach Eric Musselman had seen enough as Missouri extended its lead to double digits in the final 10 minutes. Musselman was sent off after arguing with officials in the less than four-minute timeout following a stretch of the game’s most physical play.
The Razorbacks missed 22 layups when Missouri’s plan to force Arkansas away from the 3-point line inward work.
” When they were coming in, we were trying to make sure we had our hands up and jumping with them. Just contesting the shots, that was the main thing, ” Timon said.
Missouri allowed Arkansas to stay close for most of the game, as the Tigers committed 21 turnovers, although Arkansas managed to convert them to just 15 points. The Razorbacks finished 4:53 without a field goal midway through the second half, ultimately giving Missouri a sufficient lead to build its double-digit time-out lead for the under-eight midfielders.
Martin was frustrated by turnovers, which were just shy of the Tigers’ 24 in Wednesday’s loss to No. 7 Tennessee. Yet it was the only thing he didn’t care about on Saturday.
” The game against Tennessee was not like us at all,” Martin said. ”This. This is how we look. ”
Timon was joined in double figures by Xavier Pinson (23) and Mark Smith (11). JD Note and Moses Moody led Arkansas in scoring with 19 and 18 points, but it took 33 combined field goal attempts to hit those marks.
An early alley-oop from Pinson to Timon set the stage. It’s a combination that Martin also specifically called important after the game.
” If he (Timon) gets to that point where he demands the ball every time he lands, we are a team of another level,” Martin said.
Arkansas big man Conor Hanover had his worst game of the season, often with Timon at guard. The 7-foot-3 Hanover was 0-of-11 from the ground, scoring all four of his points from the line.
Missouri remains the SEC surprise of the year, leveling its league play record after the loss to Tennessee on Wednesday. The Tigers were chosen to finish 10th after a 15-16 record last year.
Arkansas, which finished with the same SEC record as Missouri last year, remains in excellent position in the NCAA Tournament and should remain at the top of the Top 25.
UNTIL NEXT TIME
Missouri will play a second straight road game on Wednesday at Mississippi State.
Arkansas is in the middle of its toughest stretch of the year when the Razorbacks travel to Knoxville on Wednesday to play No. 7 Tennessee.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.