Poplar Bluff overcame a nine-point deficit in the fourth quarter.
POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. -- Missed free throws and turnovers by Central helped Poplar Bluff rally from a nine-point fourth-quarter deficit to stay unbeaten in SEMO Conference play with a 62-56 win.
The Tigers missed 16 free-throw attempts, including nine in the final quarter when they also turned the ball over seven times to fuel a 25-11 run by the Mules.
"I thought our kids played well. We came in with a good game plan," Central coach Derek McCord said. "I thought my sophomore Derek Walker did an excellent job on [Ben] Hansbrough."
Hansbrough, a Mississippi State signee, was limited to three field goals but finished with 17 points before fouling out.
Darnell Wilks scored 14 while David Deisher added 13 for the Tigers (10-8, 1-3 SEMO).
Jack March provided the spark off the bench for Poplar Bluff, hitting a 3-pointer to put the Mules up for good with 1:48 to play. He then stole a pass and hit the first of two free-throw attempts. Hansbrough tipped in the miss to put the Mules up 58-53.
The Tigers used a 10-3 run late in the third quarter to take a double-digit lead on Jeremy Kimble's kiss off the glass with 40 seconds on the period.
Central led much of the first half and 22-20 at halftime before the teams traded the lead five times and were tied twice in the opening five minutes of the second half.
The Mules (14-4, 3-0) won their 19th straight conference game but it was the first time they didn't win by double digits since losing in overtime to Charleston in 2003.
Poplar Bluff's 35-game home win streak was in doubt with Central leading 42-33 heading into the final quarter. The Mules got five points from junior reserve Kevin Hutson midway through the final frame and finally caught Central on Spencer's jumper with 3:05 to go.
The Tigers took the lead back twice, the final time a layin by Kimble but March was left alone on the right wing where he splashed in a 3 to put Poplar Bluff on top for good.
"We outplayed them," McCord said, noting that foul trouble to Walker and Deisher hampered the Tigers down the stretch.
"If we continue to put efforts together like we did the last two nights, we'll have a good finish," said McCord.
CENTRAL (56) -- Jared Thomas 2, Darnell Wilks 14, Jeremy Kimble 7, David Deisher 13, Derek Walker 2, Adrian Cox 8, Jajuan Bell 8, Garrett Ozbun 2, FG 22, FT 15-30 (3-pointers: Cox 2. Fouled out: Deisher, Walker)
POPLAR BLUFF (62) -- Hansbrough 17, Spencer 16, Taylor 2, Bryant 2, Holeman 3, March 10, Hutson 5, Robinson 7. FG 22, FT 23-33 (3-pointers: March 2, Hansbrough 1, Hutson 1, Spencer 1. Fouled out: Hansbrough).
JV -- Poplar Bluff, 54-52.