AUBURN, Ala. – Marshawn Powell scored 23 points for the Arkansas men’s basketball team on Saturday evening against the Auburn Tigers, but his efforts fell short as the Razorbacks lost 92-83 in Auburn, Ala. Powell’s 23-point performance is his second consecutive 20-plus point game for the Razorbacks marking the first time in his young career that he has accomplished the task.
Arkansas (14-13, 7-5 SEC) drops into a tie for first place in the SEC’s Western Division with Mississippi State who defeated LSU on a last second basket earlier in the day. Auburn (13-13, 4-7 SEC) picks up a key victory to its conference tournament seeding.
"Thought Auburn played very well," Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey said. "In the first half I didn’t think that we played very well, but we got better in the second half. Marshawn was unbelievable. You have to give Auburn credit. They hit some timely threes. With a senior basketball team like they have you know that it is going to be hard fought.
Auburn came out of the gates hitting shots as it buried its first two three-point attempts, but the Razorbacks went inside to even the score and eventually take a one-point lead, 9-8, at the first media timeout. The Tigers continued to shoot from the outside and hit five of their first seven to build a six-point lead midway through the period. Auburn’s Tay Waller was in the zone as he hit four of five from long range.
Arkansas’ defense was able to solve the Auburn three-point parade mid-way through the half and work its way back to a two-point game by continuing to go inside and draw fouls while taking high percentage shots. Auburn pulled ahead again, this time by seven as it began to hit its shots again. The first half would end with Arkansas trailing by six, 42-36. Aiding the Auburn cause was its 57 percent from the floor and even better 63 percent from three-point range. The Razorbacks got 10 points from Powell over the opening 20 minutes as the freshman posted his 21st double-digit performance in 27 games this season.
The Razorbacks came out of the break and scored the first four points of the half, but Auburn responded and never allowed Arkansas to get any closer than two through the 12 minute mark, but back-to-back three-point baskets by Rotnei Clarke and a follow up by Stef Welsh with time expiring on the shot clock tied the game at 55.
Arkansas picked up its defense once it took the lead and used some nifty passing in the interior to get Delvon Johnson three straight dunks, giving the Hogs a 61-58 lead and force Auburn to call a timeout. The Tigers used the break in action to regroup and came back to take another lead, the fourth lead change of the contest, 65-64, on another Waller long ball.
The two teams would trade the lead over the final five minutes of the game until Auburn scored four straight coming out of an Arkansas timeout, giving it an 83-79 lead with 1:57 on the clock. Defense was the calling card for both teams over the final two minutes of the game with Auburn’s coming up big time and again to secure the victory.
Along with Powell’s 23 points, Courtney Fortson and Clarke each hit for 16 while Johnson came up big off the bench for the Razorbacks with 10 points, all in the second half. Powell also led the Razorbacks with seven rebounds including four on the offensive side of the floor. Waller led all scorers with 29 for the Tigers.
The Razorbacks are back on the road on Wednesday night when they take on the LSU Tigers in Baton Rouge, La.