By Jack McGrath
The Missouri men’s basketball team rode an energetic atmosphere to a victory on Saturday when they defeated the Arkansas Razorbacks by a score of 83 to 79 in overtime. The contest was the fifth annual Rally for Rhyan game and Missouri is now 5-0 in such games.
Saturday’s game was the most highly attended home game for Mizzou all year, with an attendance of 11,439 people. The game was highly energetic from the outset for both the fans and the players.
Missouri was flying all over the court on the defensive end, forcing multiple turnovers and only allowing one Arkansas field goal before the 9:38 mark of the first half. The Tigers also dominated the glass early which set the tone for the rest of the contest.
“If we don’t rebound and we commit fouls, we’re not going to win,” said Arkansas Head Coach Eric Musselman.
Missouri out-rebounded Arkansas 52-35 and both teams were in the bonus by the 11:06 mark of the first half.
Missouri went into halftime up 36-30, but Arkansas got its feet back under them early in the second half. Both teams struggled to shoot from deep the entire game and began attacking the inside.
Reed Nikko had a big day in the paint for Missouri, recording his first career double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds, including 7 offensive boards.
The game tightened up in the final minutes and Missouri had to play without Nikko as he fouled out with just over three minutes to go in regulation.
The Tigers had a chance to take the game in regulation with possession of the ball with 21 seconds remaining on the game clock and 19 seconds remaining on the shot clock. Missouri set up a play to have Xavier Pinson, who had 24 points on the day, driving to the basket. Pinson drove and kicked to Mitchell Smith in the corner, but Smith hesitated on the shot, leading to a shot clock violation.
Missouri seemed re-energized in the overtime period and the stadium became electric as they took a seven-point lead with 1:45 remaining. When it appeared that Arkansas may make a comeback, down two with 22 seconds left, Xavier Pinson lobbed it up to Tray Jackson who threw it down and put the nail in the coffin. It was Jackson’s third momentous dunk of the day.
The win was an important victory but even more important may be the win in the battle against pediatric cancer. It was announced that the University raised over 80,000 dollars to fight pediatric cancer in honor of Rhyan Loos, a nine-year-old girl currently in remission.
“Anytime you can support pediatric cancer, I think it’s very important,” said Missouri Head Coach Cuonzo Martin.
Martin appreciated the atmosphere and the cause and said he hopes fans create a similar atmosphere in other games as well.
Missouri improved to 11-12 on the year and 3-7 in conference. Arkansas falls to 16-7 on the year and 4-6 in conference.
Edited by Emma Moloney | firstname.lastname@example.org