Score: Missouri 93, Arkansas 63
Stars: Missouri: Laurence Bowers 24 Pts, 11 Reb, 2 Blks, 1 Ast, 1 Stl Arkansas: BJ Young 27 Pts, 3 Asts, 1 Reb, 1 Stl, 1 Blk
Story: Missouri basketball had its best performance of the season against former coach Mike Anderson and the Arkansas Razorbacks on Senior Night. All of the talk before the game was about Anderson's return to Columbia and Mizzou Arena for the first time since he left the team. Frank Haith said he wanted the game to be more about the team and the seniors, but there was no question that Anderson was one of the main story lines before, during, and after the game.
Anderson was booed from the start of the game during introductions until the end of the game when he walked off the court. Every time he called a timeout, Anderson was booed. Every time he complained to the refs, Anderson was booed.
To clarify: Anderson left the Missouri basketball team in great shape when he left for his dream school, so fans don't fault him for that. They do fault him, however, for the way he left the program. Anderson continually said he was committed to Missouri before leaving for Arkansas with no notice. Fans still feel betrayed by Anderson and let him know about it. His departure led to Arkansas becoming our new SEC rival when we joined the conference.
At the end of the game "NIT" and "Faith in Haith" were chanted at the Razorbacks to let Anderson know he made the wrong decision and that Mizzou has moved on to an even better coach. It should be noted that Anderson clapped when Laurence Bowers was taken out of the game, showing some class and respect for the player that he brought to Mizzou.
As for the game, Missouri led the whole time, often by more than 20 points. Arkansas struggles on the road and that continued tonight as the Razorbacks missed many wide open shots. In addition, Missouri turned it on defensively and seemed to be taking the ball away at will. The Tigers have now won 18 straight home games dating back to last season, which is one of the top ten streaks in the nation.
On a night where everyone played well, Laurence Bowers was the player of the game. It was his Senior Night, and Bowers played like the special player that he is. Bowers controlled the game the entire time and never let up. Over his five years at Missouri, Bowers has contributed so much for the program and deserved all the praise and recognition that he received tonight.
Alex Oriakhi and Keion Bell were also honored on Senior Night for their contributions to Mizzou. In only one year of play, each has earned the praise for fans and been a valuable part of the team. Bell has come on as a second ball handler and has really expanded his role in the past few weeks. Oriakhi has been a beast down low, providing a threat on both ends of the court. Special recognition should be given to Oriakhi for grabbing his 1,000th rebound in the game. All three seniors, especially Bowers, will be missed next season when they are gone.
Missouri has one more game in the regular season on Saturday at Tennessee. The game is very important for the Tigers as they can clinch a double bye in the SEC tournament with a win. A loss could drop them all the way down to the six seed. Look for the Tigers to come out strong and try to pick up another road win as they want to end the regular season on a high note.