COLUMBIA, Mo. – It's been so long since Jabari Brown last scuffled, one of his teammates blamed it on elements well beyond the junior guard's control.
"I think it was a solar eclipse tonight or something because you rarely see him miss shots that he's used to taking and making," Jordan Clarkson said after scoring 21 points to help the Tigers hold off Vanderbilt 67-64 on Wednesday night. "He's human like everybody else."
Clarkson was best at the free throw line, hitting all 11 attempts. The rest of the team was just 6 for 16 with enough late misses to allow Vanderbilt to make a late scare.
"It wasn't the prettiest of games," coach Frank Haith said. "I thought we lost some focus. We saw some plays we haven't had in a while in terms of offensive execution and missed free throws, but I'm proud of how we finished."
Earnest Ross added 16 points for the Tigers (19-7, 7-6 SEC) in a matchup of schools tied for fifth place in the conference. Brown, held to 10 points on 3 for 11 shooting, averaged 23.9 points the previous 10 games including 22 in the first meeting at Vanderbilt last month.
Brown matched his season low, also getting 10 points against Illinois in late December.
"He never got into a flow, and whether we had something to do with that defensively, I'm not sure," Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said. "He just never really got untracked, and I think that that probably had more to do with him than it had to do with us, honestly."
Damian Jones had 19 points and seven rebounds for Vanderbilt (14-11, 6-7). Down eight points with just over two minutes to go, the Commodores shaved the deficit to two on Kyle Moats' 3-pointer with 19.4 seconds to go.
Kyle Fuller's bid to force overtime on a shot that drew iron from beyond midcourt came after the buzzer. Fuller made just one of 12 shots and had four points, eight below his average, hurting a team down to seven scholarship players.
"We don't have a lot of margin for error for a guy to off or a guy to have a real bad night," Stallings said.
Missouri won its third in a row, all at home and by a combined nine points. The Tigers needed contributions from freshmen Johnathan Williams III, who blocked three shots and hit his second 3-pointer of the year; Wes Clark, who had nine points on 3-for-3 shooting and played 25 minutes at guard; and Torren Jones, who had four points, four rebounds and three steals.
Missouri emphasized stopping Rod Odom, who was held to 10 points on 3-for-13 shooting after scoring 24 points in Vanderbilt's 3-point win at home last month. But the Tigers helped make the finish exciting by going 6 for 12 at the free throw line the final 1:31.
Clarkson scored nine points in the final six minutes, including three baskets in a 13-2 run that put the Tigers up 61-53.
Vanderbilt set a deliberate tempo in the first half, leading 21-20 at the half with both teams shooting 33 percent and enduring lengthy dry spells. Missouri went nearly seven minutes without a point and Vanderbilt was scoreless more than 4 1/2 minutes before Jones's tip-in to end the half for the lead.
"The second half got sped up and we had a harder time guarding them," Stallings said. "We were able to score, but not at the level they did. Almost, but not quite."
The first-half scoring total was a season-worst by five points for Missouri. Vanderbilt's season low was 19 points its last time out against Texas A&M.
"It was tough," Clarkson said. "But we knew we were going to pick it up in the second half. We have confidence in our offense."
A half-dozen football players, including quarterback Maty Mauk, signed autographs the hour before the game. Fans also got a chance to pose for photos with the Cotton Bowl trophy and two of the school's Golden Girls cheerleader team.
"The feeling is better when you've got all this support," Mauk said. "It's good to give back to these guys."