By CHARLIE CLARKE , Associated Press
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Missouri locked down on the final defensive possession and squeaked by Arkansas 79-78 Tuesday night.
The Tigers were up three points with 17 seconds remaining when Arkansas’ Daniel Gafford threw down an alley-oop dunk from Jalen Harris. On the ensuing inbound play, Missouri’s Xavier Pinson committed a push-off foul to give Arkansas the ball back and a chance to win.
Missouri’s Jeremiah Tilmon didn’t allow Harris to get a quality shot off, and the ball was tipped back to him as time expired.
Tilmon led Missouri (12-11, 3-8 Southeastern Conference) with 21 points. Senior Jordan Geist contributed 18 points as the Tigers avoided falling below .500 for the first time since Cuonzo Martin took over as head coach at the beginning of last season.
The Tigers erupted for 46 points in the first half, eclipsing their previous season high of 45 against Morehead State on Dec. 29.
Gafford led Arkansas (14-10, 5-6) with 26 points on 12-of-17 shooting. He scored the Razorbacks’ first 10 points of the game.
Arkansas shot 47 percent from the field. The Tigers won the turnover battle 12-11 and outrebounded Arkansas 39-33.
Arkansas: The Razorbacks had a chance to win, but instead it turns into a loss that will hurt their NCAA Tournament chances.
Missouri: The Tigers have struggled to maintain leads recently, so holding off Arkansas’ comeback attempt was a step in the right direction. Missouri is still off the radar in terms of NCAA Tournament hopes.
Arkansas returns home to face Mississippi State on Saturday.
Missouri hits the road to take on Mississippi on Saturday.