Arkansas puts unbeaten streak on line vs. No. 12 Missouri

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The unbeaten Arkansas Razorbacks will continue their bid for national rankings when they host No. 12 Missouri on Saturday.

The Razorbacks (9-0) opened their Southeastern Conference schedule with an impressive 97-85 victory at Auburn on Wednesday night. That upgraded their profile after they swept an easy non-conference slate of eight home games against schools from lesser conferences.

Missouri (6-1) enjoyed surprising success outside of the SEC, upsetting nationally ranked Oregon at a neutral site Dec. 2 before toppling Big Ten power Illinois at home Dec. 12. But the Tigers opened conference play with an ugly 73-53 loss to No. 7 Tennessee at home.

"The great thing about league play: It turns around quick, so you don't have a lot of time to sulk about it," Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin said after that blowout. "Some of the things we saw coming, and hopefully we can get these things corrected. In league play, your margin for error is slim, and some of those things, we paid for tonight, and we gotta get them corrected."

Arkansas' smallest margin of victory this season has been 11 points. But despite being untested previously, the Razorbacks withstood Auburn's second-half push to close out their victory.

"They made a run and part of winning in the SEC and part of winning on the road was you've got to finish the game," Razorbacks coach Eric Musselman said. "We haven't been in that position obviously. And so there's a lot of unknowns."

Arkansas was able to finish off Auburn despite losing starting power forward Justin Smith to a first-half ankle injury.

"We had lineups out there that we've never had," Musselman said. "I thought the guys stepped up to the challenge and did a really, really good job."

Smith, who is averaging 11.6 points and 7.1 rebounds per game, is questionable for the Missouri game.

"I don't really know, but obviously he was in a boot," Musselman said. "But it's next man up. Hopefully he'll do some rehab and I don't know what the docs will say once we get home."

Arkansas has plenty of other offensive options with Moses Moody (16.8 points per game), JD Notae (15.0), Desi Sills (14.1) and Jalen Tate (10.1) also scoring in double figures this season.

Missouri will be trying to get back into gear offensively after the Tigers scored just 107 points in their past two games. They missed 13-of-16 shots from three-point range against Tennessee after missing 18-of-21 in their previous game, a 54-53 victory over Bradley.

The Tigers are shooting just 27.3 percent from beyond the arc this season.

They have tried to push the pace this season, led by speedy guard Xavier Pinson -- who is averaging a team-best 13.9 points. But their offense has bogged down in their half-court sets due to the lack of movement with and without the ball.

"We can't get stagnant," said guard Dru Smith, who is averaging 12.1 points this season. "We can't get caught ball-watching. Even if someone is making a one-on-one play, there still has to be movement on the backside. A lot of the time, especially tonight, we got caught watching guys try to go make plays. If they get stuck, they have no outlet. Everyone is just kind of standing around.

"So I think just making sure we have player movement and ball movement all at the same time. That's what we need to do."

--Field Level Media