FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas responded to its first loss of the season by falling behind by 15 on Tuesday to Southeast Missouri State, then storming back and outscoring the Indians by 20 in the second half to claim a 78-68 victory.
Arkansas, which lost to No. 11 Illinois, 84-61, in Chicago on Saturday, improved to 5-1 with the win while SEMO is 4-3.
“We’ll take it,” head coach Stan Heath said. “Obviously we still have a lot of things to take care of. I’m really proud of how our guys came back in the second half. I wish we could have that mindset from the start, but we didn’t tonight. I’m just happy that we battled back like we did.”
Southeast shot 53.8 percent from the floor in the first half, including 66.7 percent on threes. The Indians were even hotter earlier in the game.
Dainmon Gonner’s three at the 14:34 mark gave SEMO a 20-10 lead. A three by Terrick Willoughby made it 31-18 and two free throws by Brett Hale gave Southeast its largest lead at 33-18 with 7:16 left in the period.
The Razorbacks cut the deficit to 10 at the half, 41-31, when Jonathon Modica nailed a three and Eric Ferguson, who had a season-high tying 18 points, made a pair of free throws.
UA quickly cut the margin to five in the second half, but SEMO responded and pushed the lead back to 10, 46-36, on a trey by Derek Winans.
A 12-4 run, with five points from Ferguson, got the Hogs within 50-48 with 14:45 remaining, but the Indians held on until a three by Billy Pharis and a free throw by Modica, who scored 20 points and led Arkansas in scoring for the sixth time this season, tied the game at 56-56 with 11:04 to go.
Olu Famutimi, who made his first start of the year and had a season-high 12 points, followed with a three to make it 59-56 and give Arkansas its first lead since 7-5.
Pharis added a jumper, Ronnie Brewer a dunk and Famutimi made two free throws to complete a 13-0 scoring run and give the Razorbacks a 65-56 lead.
Southeast cut the margin to five with two minutes left and four, 71-67, with 1:12 remaining, but Modica hit a running layup and made three of four free throws to seal the victory.
Brewer finished with 14 points while Pharis had 10 points and team highs of nine rebounds and four assists.
Gonner led the Indians with 20 while Brandon Griffin had 16 points and 11 rebounds.
Arkansas plays again on Dec. 17 when Louisiana Tech visits Bud Walton Arena for a 7:05 p.m. game televised by ARSN.