FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Sophomore Rotnei Clarke may have been massive down the stretch and hit the game winning shot in overtime, but it was the energy and rebounding of freshman Glenn Bryant that was key to the Arkansas Razorbacks’ 66-62 win over the previously undefeated Missouri State Bears in men’s basketball on Tuesday night at Bud Walton Arena.
Arkansas (7-5) picks up its fifth consecutive win in front of a season high 10,853 raucous fans. The victory is also Arkansas’ second overtime win of the year. Missouri State (10-1) takes its first loss of the year.
"I feel fortunate to get the win tonight," Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey said. "They are a very good team and I thought that we were able to match them toe-to-toe. Outside of turnovers, I thought that we really competed, but also that we can play better. We showed some real heart today, especially in this building which is a special place. There were moments that we could have been knocked out, but we hung in there."
The Razorbacks appeared to have the game won in regulation. A Clarke steal and fast break three with 1:39 to play brought the pro-Razorback crowd to its feet, but the next possession by the Bears tied the game at 57 with 1:16 left. Arkansas’ next trip down the floor witnessed Marcus Britt miss a long-range jumper, but the rebound went out of bounds off a Missouri State player and gave the ball back to the Hogs with 36.7 on the clock. The Razorbacks worked the 35-second clock down to single digits before a curl on the left side of the lane by Clarke gave him the ball and a 12-foot jump shot with 4.7 to play. Clarke’s seeming heroics brought the crowd to a frenzy but Missouri State was able to get the ball all the way up the court and hit a basket at the buzzer to force overtime.
In the overtime period Missouri State opened the scoring with a three pointer and would hold the lead for most of the five minutes of action. Clarke answered with a short jumper to put the Hogs down by one, 62-61 with four minutes left. Missed shots and good defense on both ends kept the teams off the scoreboard late into the contest and it was the final defensive play by Marshawn Powell with 0:31 to play that pushed the Razorbacks over the top. With one minute to play Missouri State moved the ball up the court and as the shot clock ticked down, Powell got his hand on the ball and held on allowing the Razorbacks to call a timeout with 25.3 seconds. Running a stagger set for Clarke, the Razorbacks’ leading scorer found his touch late and buried a three pointer with 18 seconds on the clock to put the Hogs up 64-62.
Missouri State’s next shot would not fall and Clarke grabbed the rebound and would get fouled to seal the game for the scrappy Razorbacks.
Arkansas got off to a solid start, building an 8-2 lead over the opening 3:30 of the game. The Hogs were able to get the advantage by missing just one shot, grabbing four rebounds, making a steal and blocking a shot. The Razorback lead would eventually grow to seven, but back-to-back three-pointers by the Bears cut the Arkansas advantage to one quickly. The Bears would take their first lead of the game at 10:46 as the Hogs were in the midst of a dreadful scoring drought.
The Razorbacks would go nearly eight minutes without a score and during that time, Missouri State would score 14 points to turn a seven-point deficit into a seven-point lead. Bryant would break the slump with a steal and old-fashioned three-point play at the seven minute mark. The hustle play by Bryant sparked the Razorbacks and the crowd leading the Hogs to a 15-6 run to close the half and give Arkansas a two-point lead at the break, 29-27. Clarke would give the Razorbacks the lead on a pair of free throws when he was fouled going to the rim with 56.6 to play in the period.
Clarke led the Razorbacks in scoring with 19 points and three-three-point baskets. Powell was also in double digits with 17 points and seven rebounds. Bryant led all rebounders with a career high 11, including eight on the defensive end. Eight of the Razorbacks’ nine players scored at least two points and all nine grabbed at least one board.
Missouri State was led by Kyle Weems who scored a game high 24 points. Jermaine Mallett added 11 for the Bears.
The Razorbacks get a break for the holiday season and return to the court on Wednesday, Dec. 30, when they take on Baylor at Verizon Arena in North Little Rock, Ark. For more information regarding Razorback men’s basketball or University of Arkansas athletics, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.