FAYETTEVILLE — BJ Young let his play remind everyone that Arkansas coach Mike Anderson wasn’t the only one with a point to prove against Missouri.
Young, a St. Louis native, scored seven points in the final 29.3 seconds — including a pair of three-point plays — to help the Razorbacks rally for a 73-71 win over the Tigers on Saturday.
The win is the first over Missouri for Anderson, who is in his second season at Arkansas after leaving the Tigers.
For all of the pre-game talk about Anderson’s ties to the school where he coached for five years, however, it was Young who saved his best for last against his home-state rival.
The Razorbacks (16-9, 7-5 SEC) trailed 70-66 with less than a minute remaining, but Young — who was recruited by Anderson while he was at Missouri — converted on back-to-back three-point plays to put them up 72-71. He then added a free throw to secure the win.
“It was big for me; coach Anderson, too,” Young said. “That was big for both of us, and the rest of the team just kept encouraging us.
“It was a big game, but I was pretty revved up for this one, too.”
Marshawn Powell led Arkansas with 24 points, while Young had 18 and Coty Clarke added 13 for the Razorbacks — who are now 15-1 at home this season. Their only loss came on Nov. 30 to No. 6 Syracuse.
Missouri, which notched its first road win of the season at Mississippi State on Wednesday, was once again left to ponder what might have been following the crushing last minute of play against its former coach.
Keion Bell led the Tigers (18-7, 7-5) with a season-high 25 points, while Earnest Ross added 16. They appeared to have the game under control after Bell’s two free throws put them up 70-66 with 38.3 seconds remaining, but they had no answer for Young.
“I thought he stepped up and showcased the player he can be and that he’s capable of being,” Anderson said. “That’s what he does. He makes plays for our basketball team.”
Missouri trailed by as many as seven points in the second half, but it took a 67-65 lead on a Paul Pressey jumper with 1:02 remaining. The Tigers then extended their lead to 70-66 after the free throws by Bell.
Young responded on the other end with a layup and was fouled, and his free throw cut the lead to 70-69. After Jabari Brown made only one of two free throws on the other end for Missouri, Young did the exact same thing, sending the season-high crowd of 19,004 in Bud Walton Arena crowd into a frenzy against the SEC newcomer and budding rival.
Young’s lay-up with 19.6 seconds left tied the game at 71-71 and his free throw put Arkansas up for good.
Missouri had one final shot at the win in the closing seconds, but Brown misfired on a 3-point attempt at the buzzer to complete the rally by the Razorbacks. The Tigers are now 8-6 in their last 14 games after opening the season 10-1.
“It’s a game of runs and ups and downs, and we had been on a run previously so we had to be prepared for their run,” Bell said. “It just didn’t turn out how we wanted it to turn out.”
After trailing throughout the first half, Arkansas finally took the lead early in the second half — going up 39-37 after a 3-pointer by Powell.
Powell’s 3-pointer highlighted a run of 10-straight Arkansas point for the junior, who put Arkansas up 44-41 after a pair of free throws. The Razorbacks extended that lead to as many as seven in the second half, going up 49-42 after a jumper by Hunter Mickelson, before Ross hit a 3-pointer from the corner to tie the game at 63-63.
“It was a high-level game,” Missouri coach Frank Haith said. “I’m proud of our guys, how hard they fought, under the circumstances. I’m really proud of them.”
Missouri showed off in the early going for its former coach, sprinting to a 9-0 lead. The Tigers kept that lead throughout the first half, thanks largely to the play of Bell — who was 4 of 4 from the field in the half and had 10 points.
Arkansas rallied late in the half behind the play of Powell, who didn’t score until more than 12 minutes into the game. Once the forward found his touch, however, he was all but unstoppable.
Powell scored all of his nine first-half points during a 12-point outburst for the Razorbacks, which cut the Missouri lead to 26-25 after a Powell free throw. He missed the second free throw attempt, however, that would have tied the game, and Young followed with a missed free throw on the front end of a 1-and-1 attempt — another missed opportunity to tie the game for Arkansas.
The Razorbacks were 3 of 7 from the free-throw line in the first half, and they trailed 33-29 at halftime. Clarke was one of the few bright spots in the half for Arkansas, connecting on all three of his 3-point attempts after entering the game 3 of 9 from behind the arch on the season.
The Tigers, meanwhile, dominated the boards in the first half. The SEC’s top rebounding team, which entered the game out-rebounding its opponents by an average of 9.9 rebounds per game, held a 27-15 advantage at the half — led by Alex Oriakhi’s seven first-half rebounds.
Oriakhi finished with a game-high 11 rebounds, but he struggled with foul trouble throughout. Missouri out-rebounded the Razorbacks 47-31, but the advantage wasn’t enough to overcome its former coach — or Young’s late scoring binge.
“My teammates, they just kept encouraging me and telling us that it wasn’t over,” Young said. “We just stayed together as a team and made plays down the stretch.
“Marshawn carried us when needed points and rebounds, and I just tried to close out the game.”