COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Frank Haith appeared even more fired-up than his players for Missouri’s home finale, doing everything he could to make sure it was the perfect finish. Not to mention a rough night for the man he replaced.
Haith’s jacket came off early in the first half of the Tigers’ 93-63 rout over Arkansas on Tuesday night. He had to be restrained from confronting Arkansas coach Mike Anderson during a stoppage of play and during another timeout he waved his arms, prodding a sellout crowd intent on showing their old coach a bad time.
“Coach is an emotional guy and I definitely think we feed off that,” forward Alex Oriakhi said. “I looked at him on the sideline and I didn’t really recognize him. That was the most emotional I’ve ever seen him.”
Laurence Bowers had 24 points and 11 rebounds in his final home game, helping to spoil Anderson’s first appearance as a visitor.
“This was the way I wanted to go out,” Bowers said.
Jabari Brown helped finish off the Razorbacks early with 13 of his 23 points in a dominant first half with the Tigers (22-8, 11-6 SEC) leading 48-22.
Senior Alex Oriakhi had 10 points and eight rebounds and topped 1,000 career rebounds.
“Emotions were pretty high for all of us,” said Keion Bell, the third senior, who added eight points and four rebounds.
BJ Young had 27 points for Arkansas (18-12, 9-8), which shot just 31 percent in the first half while going 1 for 15 from 3-point range. After the Razorbacks surrendered a season high in points, Anderson shrugged off the boos that greeted him by saying “it was just another game.”
“This is senior night and you expect emotions to run sky-high, and I thought those seniors kind of set the stage,” Anderson said. “It was a great atmosphere.”
Both coaches characterized the exchange as a “miscommunication.”
“You know I’m emotional and I was emotional for my team and I was encouraging my team, and I think he thought I was saying something else,” Haith said. “But I was only talking to my team.”
Anderson reminded reporters for the second time in three days that he recruited two of Missouri’s stars, Bowers and junior point guard Phil Pressey, and that during his time at Missouri “passion” in the program was rekindled.
Coaching against them, Anderson said, “Oh, man, something ain’t right about this. But Frank has done an excellent job.”
Missouri finished 17-0 at home for its second unbeaten slate in five years. The Tigers shot 58 percent in the first half and 57 percent the rest of the way, and are shooting 61 percent the last three games.
The Tigers lost by three points at Arkansas last month, but seized control of the rematch early. The halftime deficit was by far the largest for Arkansas, easily topping the previous worst of 17 points at South Carolina. The Razorbacks lost that one by 21, and also fell on the road by 17 at Florida and 18 at Vanderbilt.
Marshawn Powell was held to nine points after scoring 24 the first meeting.
“We’ll live again,” said forward Kikko Haydar. “All sickness isn’t death.”
Anderson finished a five-year run at Missouri with three straight NCAA appearances, including the Elite Eight in 2009, before jumping to Arkansas where he had been a longtime assistant under Nolan Richardson. He held off making his first appearance as long as possible during the pre-game and was greeted by a chorus of boos as he crossed the court accompanied by a state trooper, then booed even louder when he was introduced.
Missouri was a basket shy of matching its season-best scoring total for the half, going 5 for 9 from 3-point range.
The Razorbacks, who are next-to-last in the SEC at 30 percent on 3-pointers, missed their first 12 from long range before Madracus Wade ended the drought with 4:04 left in the half. The hole was so deep Anderson left Clarke in long enough to get his third foul.