COLUMBIA — Missouri kept the magic alive in Rally for Rhyan games with an 83-79 overtime win against Arkansas to stay undefeated in a game that also raised $80,000 on Saturday, and close to $600,000 across five years, for pediatric cancer research.
Xavier Pinson scored a game- and career-high 24, Mitchell Smith had eight points and 10 rebounds and drew a crucial charge on Mason Jones, the Southeastern Conference's leading scorer, which fouled Jones out of the game in overtime.
"Since I've been a freshman, when we weren't that good, we didn't lose this game," Smith said.
"I don't know. Something just comes over this arena when we play this game, and it's magical. We're doing it for a little girl and all the little kids out there that are going through cancer, so it's bigger than basketball to get this win."
Reed Nikko had 11 points and 11 rebounds despite fouling out in 20 minutes, and was aggressive on both ends of the court against a Razorbacks team without much front-court depth or size, and Javon Pickett (14 points) and Dru Smith (11 points) were important down the stretch as well.
The Tigers (12-12, 3-7 SEC) knew the Razorbacks would switch every ball screen, and frequently sent Nikko or Mitchell Smith and defender Reggie Chaney to set a ball screen for Pinson or Dru Smith and exploited the mismatch after the switch.
"That's why we went ball screen a lot," Nikko said, "because we knew we'd get that 1-5 switch, and then X is so shifty and so fast, a big on him is a mismatch and when he didn't have that, we had me on a guard inside and they were able to get it into me and get fouls and to the or get some buckets at the rim, so it was a big matchup for us."
Missouri led by as many as eight in the second half, and had the ball with 24 seconds left in regulation and the game tied at 67, but committed a shot clock violation. The Razorbacks' shot at the buzzer rimmed out. MIssouri coach Cuonzo Martin said the team got the look it wanted in a two-man game with Pinson and Mitchell Smith, but the shot didn't come.
"Honestly, I should have shot it," Pinson said. "But kinda lost track of the time. Plays like that, you just gotta shake it off and build from it."
Pinson scored seven of the team's 16 points in OT, shooting 5-of-5 at the foul line in the extra period and 12-of-13 in the game. The Razorbacks led briefly, at 69-68, in overtime. Smith hit a pair of free throws on the other end after he was fouled to put the Tigers ahead 70-69, and drew the charge 10 seconds later, as he was switched onto Jones after a screen, beat him to the spot, planted his feet and fell.
"That was big," Martin said. "You know, you play percentages, you play the scouting report, and it worked out for him."
Pinson followed with an and-1 on a layup on the other end and the visiting team never got closer than two points in the final 3:23 of overtime.
Arkansas (16-6, 4-5 SEC) had each starter score in double figures, led by Jones and Chaney, who each had 17. Columbia native Jimmy Whitt Jr. had 15 points in the loss.
Missouri showed what it could do against a team without much rim protection as Pinson, Dru Smith and Pickett got downhill and attacked the rim all game, and freshman forward Tray Jackson had nine points in 15 minutes including several highlight-reel dunks.
He swatted a jumper by Chaney with 4:58 to go in the second half, and then ran the floor and followed Pinson's run-out layup miss with a put-back dunk that whipped the season-high 11,439 fans in attendance into a frenzy. He also finished a lob from Pinson with a one-handed jam that all but sealed the game with 22 seconds left in overtime.
The Tigers also out-rebounded Arkansas 52-35, something Martin emphasized as important before the game and a barometer of the team's effort.
"I thought Reed and Mitch did a great job of rebounding, keeping balls alive," Martin said. "I thought TrayJack came in and gave us big minutes rebounding the ball. That's one advantage you have against them, because they won't allow you to make 3-point shots, so you have to drive the ball, and what presents itself, you have to take it."
The Tigers shot 34-of-44 at the foul line and took just 16 3s, making three. The Razorbacks were 28-of-39 at the foul line and 3-of-14 from beyond the arc as the two teams combined for 59 fouls, 32 against Arkansas. The Razorbacks had four players foul out, while Missouri had two.
Jeremiah Tilmon (left foot) did not dress, and Mark Smith (lower back) was available as a game-time decision but did not play.
The Tigers travel to LSU for an 8 p.m. tip Tuesday on SEC Network.