Missouri State overcame an 11-point deficit in the final 10:38 of regulation to force overtime at Arkansas on Tuesday, only to fall for the first time in 2009-10 by a final score of 66-62. The Bears (10-1) were one of just eight unbeaten teams in Division I basketball and were looking for their first 11-0 start since 1958-59. Arkansas improved to 7-5 and 7-3 at home.
The effort, however, was nothing short of impressive as Missouri State worked to overcome a season-low shooting percentage (.319) with defensive pressure and determination. The Bears forced 20 turnovers and turned the ball over just 10 times themselves. After trailing 29-27 at the half, the Bears found themselves down 44-33 on a three-pointer by Jemal Farmer with 11:16 left in regulation. But, the Bears went back to their bread-and-butter over the next four minutes in sophomore Kyle Weems who hit a jumper and a pair of threes to make it a 47-43 game with 7:30 to go. Weems’ three-pointer with 5:32 left tied the game, 47-47, and his fifth trey later in the half knotted the game again, 57-57, with 1:15 to go.
WIth the game then tied, Arkansas got a team offensive rebound with 37 seconds to go and ran it down to 4.7 seconds before Rotnei Clarke pulled up over 6-foot-11 Missouri State center Caleb Patterson to drain a short jumper and put the Razorbacks up by two. But the Bears ran a set play out of a called timeout in the final seconds, resulting in a layup by Patterson on a sensational pass from Justin Fuehrmeyer at the horn to force overtime. It looked like the Bears would continue the momentum early into extra time as Weems hit his sixth trey of the night at the 4:25 mark of the OT to put MSU up 62-59. Clarke hit a jumper 30 seconds later to pull the home team within one, and the Bears’ 62-61 lead remained until there were 18 seconds to play. Clarke then drained his third trey of the night after an Arkansas timeout to put the home team up 64-62, but MSU had the ball with a chance to tie or win down the stretch. The Bears had two point-blank shots challenged in heavy traffic in the final seven seconds,,and when no call was made, the Bears fouled Clarke who came out of the heap with the ball, and he iced a pair of free throws to secure a 66-62 Razorkbacks win. Clarke had 19 for the Razorbacks, while Marshawn Powell added 17. Weems had a career-high 24 for Missouri State, while Jermaine Mallett scored 11.
Cuonzo Martin’s Bears now travel to Evansville (6-4) on Dec. 29 for their Missouri Valley Conference opener.
In a first half of streaks and physical play, the Razorbacks scored the last points of the first period and led the Bears, 29-27, at the intermission. After Arkansas jumped out to a 14-7 lead early, Weems erupted for 10 of the game’s next 14 points and got MSU back on track. He dropped in a pair of three pointers in a 35-second span to pull within 14-13, while Will Creekmore gave the Bears their first lead, 15-14, on a layup with 10:46 to go in the opening half. Mallett scored moments later to put the Bears up 19-14, before Weems hit two more baskets and extended Missouri State’s lead to 21-14. Arkansas ended the 14-0 MSU run with a traditional three-point play by Glenn Bryant at the 7:00 mark, and Arkansas ended its comeback effort with 2:17 to go in the opening stanza on a steal and layup by Marcus Britt. Fuehrmeyer tied the game, 27-27, on a driving layup at the 1:51 mark to put the Bears back up by two, before the Hogs ended the half on a 4-0 run.
The only previous time this season the Bears had trailed at the half was against Air Force on December 5, a game MSU won 58-48 at JQH Arena.