Turnovers plague Missouri in 72-60 loss to Arkansas

Missouri blew an early 13-point lead with 24 turnovers.
Designed by Corey Hadfield

Missouri looked to be headed for another conference win, but turnovers got in the way of the Tigers once again this season.

Missouri came into the game 223rd in the country in turnovers per game, averaging 13.9 per contest, and the Tigers’ 24 turnovers kept Arkansas (11-7, 2-4 SEC) around in the first half before the Razorbacks ran away late and handed Missouri (10-7, 1-4 SEC) a 72-60 loss in Fayetteville on Wednesday.

Strong defense from Missouri forced a 1-for-12 start from the field for Arkansas while the Tigers opened up a 17-4 lead in the first nine minutes.

Then Arkansas’ high-pressure defense picked off multiple passes, taking them the other way for easy layups to create 11 points off of Missouri’s 11 first-half turnovers. It shrunk a 13-point Missouri lead to just a 34-32 advantage at the break. Arkansas would finish with 27 points off of Missouri’s 24 turnovers.

The early turnovers caused Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin to give Xavier Pinson some minutes before the freshman point guard turned the ball over on his first possession. It was Pinson’s first game action in a week after he didn’t leave the bench in Missouri’s win over Texas A&M. Pinson finished with 8 points, two assists and two rebounds but had four turnovers in 21 minutes.

Pinson wasn’t the only freshman to struggle, freshman Javon Pickett only played 10 minutes and only left the bench once in the second half after the guard had trouble adjusting to Arkansas’ full court press. Freshman guard Torrence Watson had two turnovers in only eight minutes as the inexperienced Tigers were swallowed up by the defensive pressure on the road.

Even Missouri’s veterans struggled. Senior point guard Jordan Geist had a team-high four assists but also had a team-high five turnovers, though he didn’t get much help and was often left on an island to break the Arkansas pressure. Senior forward Kevin Puryear also shot 2-for-8 from the field.

Sophomore guard Mark Smith kept Missouri in the game for most of the second half as the only source of consistent offense for the Tigers. Smith had a team-high 22 points and seven rebounds on a 6-for-11 performance from behind the arc.

The sharpshooter is now first in the SEC in 3-point field goal percentage and made timely triples to quiet Arkansas runs and pulled Missouri within one with 5:04 left before he was unable to answer the Razorbacks down the stretch.

Sophomore forward Jeremiah Tilmon’s foul troubles returned after a one-game hiatus at Texas A&M when the sophomore forward picked up his fifth and final foul with 3:32 left. Tilmon finished with 9 points and five rebounds in 27 minutes.

Next, the Tigers will come back to Mizzou Arena in need of a conference win to keep its slim postseason hopes alive. Missouri plays No. 25 Louisiana State (15-3, 5-0 SEC) on Saturday at 5 p.m.

Edited by Adam Cole | acole@themaneater.com

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