By: Joey Schneider, KCOU Sports
COLUMBIA – The Missouri Tigers picked up their first conference win in an 83-78 victory over the Arkansas Razorbacks, snapping a 13-game losing streak that tied a school record.
The game was the team’s second annual “Rally for Rhyan” game, an effort to raise money for pediatric cancer research. Assistant coach Brad Loos held a halftime speech (video above) about his daughter Rhyan Loos’ battle with pediatric cancer and how the family has contributed money toward the cause. He said he is proud of how much the campaign carries with the players and mid-Missouri community.
“[The players] see what my daughter goes through, they know how hard it is for her and me, and they really did want to win this game for her,” Loos said after the game. “When you put a bunch of people in the stands, and there’s a bunch of energy in the gym, that obviously helps.”
Saturday marked the team’s second victory during the “Rally For Rhyan” game, the first one which was a 75-64 win over Tennessee on February 13, 2016.
Down by as many as 14 after a hot Missouri start, Arkansas cut the deficit to one late in the second half. But sloppy habits translated into 12 fouls, five turnovers and two starters fouling out in the Razorbacks’ second half effort, giving Missouri just enough momentum to hold on.
Four Missouri players finished with double-digit points in the game, led by Jordan Barnett’s 17 points. Kevin Puryear led the team with eight rebounds, while Terrence Phillips picked up six assists in his first conference start of the season.
Missouri’s starters accounted for 70 percent of the team’s points. The Tigers shot over 50 percent from field goal range and converted nearly 80 percent of free-throw attempts.
Missouri limited Arkansas’s leading scorer Dusty Hannahs to four first-half points. The Tigers went into halftime with a 47-34 lead, the most points the Tigers have scored in a first half against an SEC opponent this season.
“Sometimes we tend to get off to good starts, then sometimes we will lose it a little bit, but to get off to a really good start in this game was huge,” Barnett said. “It gave us a lot of confidence to continue to play to win the game.”
Scoring proved very streaky throughout the contest. Arkansas went through three-minute stretches without a field goal in both halves, while Missouri had two scoring droughts longer than three minutes in the second half.
The Tigers improve to 6-16 on the season with the victory, their first in 10 conference games. Arkansas becomes the only conference opponent that Missouri’s football and basketball teams both defeated during the 2016-17 school year.
“Through this losing streak, they have come to work every day,” said Missouri head coach Kim Anderson. “They have been resilient all year, they just have not have the success they deserved. Today, they played to win… and we matched Rhyan’s fight.”
Missouri will travel to College Station, Texas for its next game, slated on Wednesday, February 8 at 7:30 p.m. against the Texas A&M Aggies.