Missouri's Phil Pressey, left, tries to knock the ball away from Georgia's Vincent Williams during the first half of their game Wednesday in Columbia, Mo. Missouri won, 79-62, despite a career high in points and rebounds from Williams.
COLUMBIA, Mo. — Despite losing its third consecutive game to open conference play, Georgia may have found another offensive weapon in Vincent Williams.
The only player in his fourth year with the Bulldogs, Williams scored a career-high 23 points and tied a career high with four rebounds Wednesday night in a 79-62 loss to No. 17 Missouri.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope added 15 points for the Bulldogs, who never led in the game.
“He knows what we’re supposed to do, how we’re supposed to function,” coach Mark Fox said. “He’s not probably as vocal as we want him to be, but he’s a good example and tonight I thought he played with great heart and was again a very good example for our players.”
Caldwell-Pope led Georgia (6-10, 0-3 Southeastern Conference) in scoring in all but one of the team’s first 15 games and is its only player to average in double figures. But Williams scored 13 points in the first half, only needing one more to tie his career high set Nov. 19 against then-No. 1 Indiana.
Asked if Williams was in the scouting report, Missouri coach Frank Haith said, “Nah, but obviously he played pretty well.”
Coming off the bench in both halves, Williams finally got it with a pull-up jumper with 13:04 remaining. He was 7 of 10 from the field, including 3 for 4 from behind the arc, and converted all six of his free throws.
“Some nights they fall, some night they don’t,” said Williams, who averaged 4.1 points per game entering the game. “Tonight, it was just falling for me.”
The night started well enough for the Bulldogs and for Williams, who found Donte’ Williams (no relation) in the lane through Missouri defenders for an emphatic two-handed dunk 2:45 into the game to tie the score at 2. But the Tigers’ Stefan Jankovic countered with hit a 3-pointer, and Georgia couldn’t force a tie the rest of the way.
The Bulldogs made 10 of their 20 shots from the field in the first half, but turned the ball over eight times and gave up nine offensive rebounds, which Missouri used to take 13 more shots, converting 15 of their 33 chances from the field to take a 38-30 halftime lead.
“They have very balanced scoring,” Fox said. “I thought their bigs, (Alex) Oriakhi hurt us on the glass. I don’t know how many offensive rebounds he had, but we knew the rebounding was going to be an issue.”
Earnest Ross scored 15 points while surviving two spills, helping Missouri bounce back from its season-low 49 points at Mississippi on Saturday. Oriakhi had 13 points on 5-for-5 shooting, eight rebounds and four blocks for the Tigers (13-3, 2-1). Their second game without leading scorer Laurence Bowers, who has a sprained right knee, was a major improvement for a team that’s 10-0 at home this season and 26-1 at Mizzou Arena in two seasons under Haith.
“In some ways, it makes them more difficult to defend when he’s not in the game,” Fox said of Bowers. “I know he’s a terrific player, but he doesn’t shoot the 3 quite as much as some of these other guys.”
Ross was held to three points at Mississippi while missing six of seven shots, Oriakhi had four points and six rebounds and Missouri was 2 for 18 from 3-point range. The Tigers were 9 for 22 against Georgia, getting three apiece from Ross and Jabari Brown, who added 15 points.
Ross missed the last 2:52 of the first half after injuring his left leg. Then he landed hard on his hip after getting fouled under the basket with just under 6 minutes to go, making one of two free throws not long before limping to the bench for good.
Haith juggled his lineup, with forwards Tony Criswell and Jankovic each getting their first start in place of Ross and Keion Bell. Jankovic scored Missouri’s first five points but lasted just 4 minutes in the half after drawing three fouls, the last just 37 seconds after re-entering.
Ross scored a career-high 30 points for Auburn against Georgia on Feb. 5, 2011.
The Tigers hit five 3-pointers and twice led by 14 points in the first half, but were outscored 8-2 over the last 3½ minutes as Georgia shaved the gap to eight points at halftime.
Six players were whistled for at least two fouls in the first half, four from Missouri.
Georgia is in a stretch of three Top 25 opponents in five games that started with a 33-point loss at Florida Jan. 9 and ends with Florida, now No. 10, at home on Jan. 23. The Bulldogs have lost three straight but shot 46 percent.
Williams thinks the team can rebound.
“I see us heading pretty far, we’ll be fine,” he said. “Just a tough start; we’ll be fine.”
Arkansas edges Auburn, 88-80, in double OT
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — BJ Young ran into a crowd on his first attempt at a game winner.
The Arkansas guard stayed outside the second time around, hitting a late 3-pointer in double overtime to help the Razorbacks hold on and secure an 88-80 win over Auburn on Wednesday night.
The win was the second straight for the Razorbacks, who survived the hot-shooting Tigers and guard Frankie Sullivan’s five second-half 3-pointers.
They did so behind Marshawn Powell’s 28 points and 11 rebounds, while Young added 22 and Mardracus Wade 12 for Arkansas (11-5, 2-1 Southeastern), which now has won seven of its last eight games. Powell had 21 points in the second half and overtimes, finishing with his second-highest point total of the season while playing 44 minutes.
“It felt real good,” Powell said. “Auburn’s very, very tough, and they play defense and make sure they hit you every time.
“I’m just glad we pulled it out.”
It was Young, however, who had the ball in the closing seconds of both of the overtime periods. The sophomore drove into traffic and was blocked by a trio of Auburn defenders near the end of the first overtime, but he had the right answer the second time around.
Young’s 3-pointer with 26.7 seconds remaining in the second overtime gave Arkansas an 84-78 lead and all but clinched the win for the Razorbacks, who never trailed in the second extra period.
Coty Clarke and Kikko Haydar then hit four free throws in the closing seconds to secure the win, but it was Young’s decision to remain outside against the Tigers’ zone defense that paid off.
“He made plays; he took what the defense gave him,” Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said. “I thought that was critical.”
Sullivan led Auburn (8-8, 2-1) with 26 points, 23 of them after halftime. He was 5 of 11 on 3-pointers, and the Tigers were 11 of 25 overall from behind the arc.
“It’s very disappointing,” Sullivan said. “I don’t think nobody that is competitive likes losing, especially when you come in here and it’s hard to win in the first place, and every time, you’re that close, and you can’t turn the corner. It’s very disappointing.”
The two teams combined to finish 27 of 50 from the free-throw line, with Auburn going 7 of 17.
Rob Chubb added 12 points and 11 rebounds before fouling out for the Tigers, who were attempting to win three in a row in the SEC for the first time since 2009.
“It was a tough game,” Auburn coach Tony Barbee said. “We talk about in league play just giving ourselves an opportunity on the road. You’ve got to take care of home court. That’s what Arkansas did tonight.
“We gave ourselves a chance to win on the road, and I’m proud of the way our guys fought.”
Auburn led 12-6 early after back-to-back 3-pointers by Shaquille Johnson, keeping its lead at six at 14-8 following Asauhn Dixon-Tatum’s third basket of the half.
Arkansas, which had struggled to score in its first two SEC games, followed with a 17-0 run and appeared to have found its offensive rhythm. Fred Gulley started the run with a 3-pointer, and Clarke’s jumper put the Razorbacks up 21-15 with 10:53 remaining in the first half — and matched the number of points Arkansas scored in the entire first half against Vanderbilt on Saturday.
Haydar’s 3-pointer capped the run, putting the Razorbacks up 25-14 and appearing to give them a commanding lead against an Auburn team that entered the game 0-4 against Arkansas under Barbee.
That comfort level didn’t last long, with the Tigers using an 8-0 run to pull within 28-25 late in the half after a bank shot by Sullivan.
The SEC’s second-leading scorer at 17.2 points per game began to find his shot to open the second half. He scored and was fouled early, following that up with a 3-pointer after his missed free throw to pull Auburn within 37-32.
Sullivan then gave the Tigers their first lead since the opening minutes when he hit his third 3-pointer to put Auburn up 51-50. He followed that with his fourth 3-pointer moments later to extend the lead to 54-51, and Rob Chubb’s dunk on the break make it 61-55 and improved the Tigers to 14 of 18 from the field in the second half.
Sullivan wasn’t finished, hitting his fifth 3-pointer of the half to put Auburn up 64-59, but Arkansas rallied with a late 8-0 run to take a 67-64 lead in the closing minute.
Wade missed what would likely have been a pair of game-clinching free throws with 25.9 seconds left, and Allen Payne took advantage on the other end for the Tigers — hitting their 10th 3-pointer of the game with 5.2 seconds remaining to force overtime.
“A hard-fought win for our Razorbacks,” Anderson said. “We had to fight for, typically you say 40 minutes, but it took 50 minutes tonight.”
“(Auburn) would not go away, and that’s the sign of a team that’s really playing some good basketball,” he added.