COLUMBIA, Mo. – Mizzou Men’s Basketball survived a late rally by the Arkansas Razorbacks on Tuesday night at Mizzou Arena, hanging on to win 79-78. Mizzou was led by sophomore forward Jeremiah Tilmon, who posted 21 points on a strong 8-of-11 clip from the field. Senior guard Jordan Geist contributed 18 points, sinking four threes and facilitating the offense all evening.
Mizzou controlled the first half before withstanding multiple Arkansas rallies down the stretch. Arkansas had possession with 10 seconds remaining but the Mizzou defense held, forcing a miss to seal the victory. With the win, Mizzou has now defeated Arkansas on three straight occasions at Mizzou Arena. The Tigers pulled out the nail-biting win, marking five straight meetings with Arkansas in which the games have been decided by 12 points or less.
Mizzou was able to execute an up-tempo pace offensively for portions of the game’s first 20 minutes thanks to Xavier Pinson and Jordan Geist’s contributions on the fast-break. Meanwhile, the black and gold also established an inside presence, dominating the rebounding battle. At the break, Geist and sophomore forward Jeremiah Tilmon led Tiger scorers with 12 points each and Mizzou held a 46-36 lead. The 46 Mizzou points were its highest first half total this season.
Mizzou broke out to a 7-0 run to start the second period but Arkansas responded with a hot offensive stretch of their own. A timely and-one conversion by Tilmon halted an Arkansas run and stretched Mizzou’s lead back out to eight with just over ten minutes remaining.
Pinson broke a Mizzou cold stretch with a floater in the middle of the lane to give Mizzou a six-point lead with 5:52 left. After an Arkansas bucket, redshirt junior guard Ronnie Suggs drilled a key triple from the right corner, padding the Mizzou lead once again.
However, Arkansas battled back into the ballgame. After a Razorback three cut Mizzou’s lead to two with 2:30 remaining, Pinson drove left and converted a smooth step-back 12-footer with the shot clock winding down to make it 76-72, Mizzou. After Arkansas scored twice at the charity stripe, senior forward Kevin Puryear found Tilmon with a timely lob pass that led to an inside flush. Tilmon’s dunk extended the Mizzou lead to four with a minute and change to go.
The Razorbacks quickly responded with another pair of free throws and Mizzou owned possession with 48 seconds remaining. With the shot clock winding down, Geist drove baseline on the right side and drew an Arkansas foul, heading to the stripe with 20 seconds left. Geist missed the front end before sinking the second, giving Mizzou a three-point lead.
Arkansas converted on the other end with a lob at the rim and Mizzou turned the ball over on the ensuing inbounds play due to an offensive foul. With 10.4 on the clock, Mizzou got a game-winning stop with time running out.