Barring a collapse down the stretch, Missouri isn’t going to miss the NCAA tournament. Losing 73-71 at Arkansas doesn’t change that.
They’ve beaten Illinois, VCU and Ole Miss and they have just one truly horrible loss — at LSU. Given the rest of the teams that are currently sitting on the bubble, the Tigers are in really good shape. Arkansas beats everyone at home. Losing is never a good thing, but a loss at Arkansas is far from reason to sound the alarm.
The bigger issue is how Missouri gave the game away down the stretch. (Before I start, yes, the Tigers have a legitimate gripe with the officiating down the stretch. I’ll get to that.)
With just over a minute left and a 65-63 lead, Phil Pressey turned the ball over trying to do to much on his own. That turnover led to a layup at the other end of the floor, and after Pressey hit a pull-up to give the Tigers the lead back on the ensuing possession, Missouri had a chance to extend their lead to two possessions when Keion Bell was fouled with 47 seconds, but he only hit one of the free throws.
After Missouri pushed their lead to four points, Bell was beaten off the dribble by BJ Young, who was given an and-one on a fairly ridiculous continuation call in which Young traveled before getting the shot off. He hit the free throw, cutting Missouri’s lead to 70-69. After Jabari Brown hit just one of two from the charity stripe, Young against blew by Bell, finishing another and-one that would give Arkansas a one point lead. After Missouri called a timeout, Pressey turned the ball over again — it was a bit of a questionable call, but I don’t think he was fouled — as a result of being out of control.
Arkansas hit one of two from the line and Missouri missed a three at the buzzer that would have won it.
Do the math, and Missouri ended the game by committing two turnovers, missing two free throws and allowing Young to blow by them twice in the final 1:19 as they were trying to protect a lead on the road.
Complain about the refs if you would like, but Missouri gave that game away down the stretch.
That’s what should sting.
Because as of today, Missouri’s only road win is at Mississippi State.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.