NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The eighth-ranked Arkansas Razorbacks needed a boost, and JD Notae fought through an illness to give them just that off the bench.
Notae scored a season-high 27 points, and Arkansas overcame a 10-point deficit to beat Missouri 70-64 on Friday night to advance to the Southeastern Conference Tournament semifinals.
“He played phenomenal,” Arkansas coach Eric Musselman said. “He threw up at one point, and then he did it again at halftime. I didn’t know if he was going to come out and play the second half.”
Musselman thinks Notae was dealing with a bad reaction to some food because the Arkansas coach also didn’t feel well all Friday. But the guard who sat out last season following a transfer from Jacksonville scored 16 in the first half and tied for the fourth-best scoring game for Arkansas at this tournament.
“We didn’t know what it was at halftime, not knowing if he’d come back,” Arkansas guard Davonte Davis said. “So him being a fighter and just helping us out coming off the bench and giving us 27 points and contributing down the stretch helped us out a lot.”
The Razorbacks (22-5) won a school-record 12th straight SEC game, topping the 11-game winning streak since the end of the 1993-94 season. The second-seeded Razorbacks will play LSU – a 76-73 winner over Ole Miss in the late game – in the semifinals Saturday, their fourth such berth since 2015.
Justin Smith scored 16 points before fouling out for Arkansas, and Davis added 11. Moses Moody, the SEC Newcomer of the Year who had been averaging 17.5 points a game, matched his season-low with five points.
Missouri (16-9) heads home having failed to reach the semifinals at this tournament since joining the SEC for the 2012-13 season with this the Tigers’ fourth loss in the quarterfinals.
Xavier Pinson led Missouri with 14 points. Dru Smith added 11.
The Tigers led for much of the first half and were up 23-13 on a layup by Dru Smith with 9:18 left.
Notae started the rally with a big dunk and made five straight shots, including back-to-back 3s to cap a 16-0 spurt. His first 3 gave Arkansas its first lead of the game with 5:13 remaining, and his second padded that lead to 29-23. The junior guard made six of his first seven shots in the half.
Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin said Notae got himself going with two deep 3s early.
“He’s a confident scorer,” Martin said. “I don’t think he scored it that well lately, but you knew it was coming at some point because he’s an aggressive scorer and if his shot is falling, they went through and you can see he made plays.”
Pickett hit a 3-pointer that put Missouri up 33-32 at halftime. The Tigers last led 49-47 on a dunk by Kobe Brown with 9:32 left.
Arkansas took control with an 13-1 run, grabbing its biggest lead at 60-50 with 5:04 left on a layup by Notae.
Missouri had one last gasp. Parker Braun hit a 3, then Kobe Brown added a pair of free throws to pull the Tigers within 63-60 with 1:49 to go. But Notae beat the shot clock throwing up a jumper off the backboard with 1:19 remaining, and Davis split his free throws with 58 seconds left to pad the lead.
Notae said the Razorbacks didn’t want to go home after their first game.
“That’s why we’re here,” Notae said. “We want to win every game.”
Missouri: The Tigers matched Arkansas’ strong shooting early in the first half until foul trouble caught up with them. Jeremiah Tilmon fouled out with 5:26 to go having scored only nine points and no rebounds, and Mitchell Smith also fouled out.
“That’s a key loss because it’s two guys you count on,” Martin said.
Arkansas: The Razorbacks started their SEC winning streak rallying from a 19-point deficit against Auburn. They also trailed by 14 to Texas A&M in the regular season finale. This time, they only trailed by only 10, but that could be costly the deeper they advance this month.
Arkansas must win its 13th straight SEC game to reach the final for the first time since 2017.
Missouri heads home to learn its NCAA Tournament destination.