LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The University of Arkansas men’s basketball team dropped its first contest of the season on Friday night to Houston, 87-78, in Verizon Arena in Little Rock, Ark. Even with double digit point totals from four Razorback players, Houston’s hot shooting from the field proved to be the difference in the game. With the loss, Arkansas falls to 2-1 on the year, while Houston moves to 3-0.
Junior Julysses Nobles led all Hog scorers on the night with 17 points. Freshman B.J. Young finished with 15, while Rashad Madden and Michael Sanchez each had 13 and 11 points respectively. The Cougars shot 53 percent from the field and were 7-of-16 from three-point land. Kirk Van Slyke led all scorers with 19 points.
“We had a great crowd tonight,” Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson said. “I’m disappointed we didn’t get a win. It seemed like every time we made a run, they would get an offensive rebound and extend their lead. I’m really proud of our guys and how they fought back to keep with it.”
The Razorbacks actually held the lead for the majority of the first half, getting up by as many as eight points with 3:54 left until halftime. Unfortunately, timely shooting by Houston in the remaining minutes by Van Slyke and Darian Thibodeaux tied the game at 36-36 as both teams headed into the locker rooms.
The second half was a much different game for both teams. Arkansas took the early lead after a layup in the paint by Rickey Scott, but the Cougars were just heating up from the field. A 7-0 run gave Houston the lead at 43-38 with 17:31 to go and then two straight buckets by TaShawn Thomas and J.J. Thompson saw the lead grow to nine. From there, Arkansas sporadically got shots to fall as they tried to cut the score down, but Houston continued to build its lead to as many as 15 with 13:01 to play.
With the score 59-44, the Hogs began to chip away at the Cougar lead. A three-pointer by Nobles followed by a couple of layups by Scott and Arkansas was only down 63-53 with 9:33 to play. At this point, the Razorbacks were in the bonus and benefited after a Houston foul on Sanchez. The Springdale native drained both free throws to make it 63-55 with 9:18 to play in the second half.
For the next five minutes, the score margin never got lower than six as Houston continued to shoot well from the field. As the Hogs were down by only eight with five and a half minutes left, Young caused a turnover on an inbounds play and finished on the other end with a layup to cut the lead to six.
With the full-court press in effect by the Razorbacks, the team caused a second straight turnover. Nobles stole the ball from Joseph Young and raced to the other end and finished with a dunk. With that last bucket, Arkansas only trailed 72-68 with 4:17 to play in the game. That would be the closest Arkansas got for the remainder of the contest as the Cougars got one big shot after another down the stretch and closed out the game for the victory.
The loss drops Arkansas to 21-17 all-time against Houston and it was the first meeting between the two schools since Feb. 7, 1991. The three-point basketball by Nobles in the first half extended Arkansas’ consecutive game streak with at least one three-point basket to 741 games. The last time Arkansas failed to make a three-pointer was during the 1989 season.
The Razorback basketball team will be back on the court on Tuesday as they will face Utah Valley at 7 p.m. in Bud Walton Arena. For more information on Razorback men’s basketball or University of Arkansas athletics, log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com.