Hogs end three-game losing streak with close win over Mizzou

Posted: January 13, 2018 at 8:19 p.m.

Arkansas forwards Daniel Gafford (10) and Arlando Cook celebrate the Razorbacks' 65-63 win over Missouri Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018, in Bud Walton Arena.

— Daniel Gafford scored on a pair of monster dunks late in the game and Arkansas defeated Missouri 65-63 Saturday night, snapping a three-game losing streak, but it didn't come easy.

The Razorbacks (12-5, 2-3 Southeastern Conference) squandered an 18-point first-half lead, but rallied late to pull out the win in front of a sellout crowd of 18,297 in Bud Walton Arena.

Gafford, a freshman, was the difference late in the game with Arkansas trailing 59-55 with just under four minutes to go. Gafford slashed inside and scored on a layup and drew a foul. His free throw pulled Arkansas within 59-58.

Twice guard Daryl Macon found Gafford inside for dunks, the last with under a minute left that gave Arkansas a 65-63 lead.

Twice Missouri had chances late to retake the lead, but the Tigers (12-5, 2-2) could not get a shot to fall. Missouri forced an Arkansas shot-clock violation with 11.7 seconds left, but Jordan Geist was forced to put up an off-balance 3-point attempt from the right corner that missed, and Arkansas rebounded as the clock expired.

Arkansas played lock-down defense for most of the first half, holding Missouri to under 30 percent shooting until near the five-minute mark. Twice Arkansas led by 18 points, the last time at 30-12 when Gafford hit a pair of free throws with 5:49 left in the first half.

A 3-pointer by Jontay Porter jump-started the Tigers and Missouri closed the half on a 16-5 run to trail 35-28 at the break.

Jaylen Barford scored the first eight Arkansas points of the second half to boost the Razorbacks' lead to 43-31, but Missouri stormed back behind Kassius Robertson, who scored 13 second-half points and finished with a game-high 26. His 3-pointer with 7:15 left pulled Missouri within 53-52, then he added another 3-pointer and a mid-range jumper for a 59-53 lead before Gafford turned the tide for Arkansas.

Gafford led a balanced Arkansas scoring attack with 15 points. Barford added 13, Anton Beard 11 and Darious Hall 10.

Jordan Barnett scored 12 for Missouri.

BIG PICTURE

Missouri: The Tigers fell into a deep hole to start the game, and although they rallied to take the lead in the fourth quarter, in the final five-plus minutes the Tigers were clearly fatigued.

Arkansas: The Razorbacks had struggled defensively before Saturday's win, giving up more than 75 points in four straight games. Arkansas held Missouri to 42 percent shooting from the floor.

UP NEXT:

Missouri will host Tennessee on Wednesday before playing three of its next four SEC games on the road starting with a game at Texas A&M next Saturday.

Arkansas hits the road Wednesday at Florida. The Razorbacks are 2-4 on the road this season with SEC losses to Auburn and Mississippi State.