Five Razorbacks Reach Double Figures in Road W
BY ANDRES FOCIL
STARKVILLE, Miss. – Freshman Joe Johnson scored 22 points and four other Razorbacks earned double-digit points as Arkansas downed Mississippi State 87-81 at Humphrey Coliseum on Saturday afternoon.
Johnson led an attack that included a career-high 19 points from sophomore Teddy Gipson and 18 points from senior Chris Walker. Freshman Alonzo Lane scored 13 points while sophomore Brandon Dean chipped in 10 points.
“We were a very balanced team today,” Arkansas head coach Nolan Richardson said. “Chris Walker had a good first half and Joe and Teddy played well especially in the second half. We made some plays today. Anytime you play on the road that is the key. I was proud of our kids’ effort.”
Arkansas (13-10, 5-5 SEC) won only its second SEC road game of the season and handed Mississippi State (12-11, 3-7 SEC) its fourth-straight defeat. The Razorbacks have now defeated the Bulldogs seven straight times.
The Razorbacks jumped out to an early lead building a nine-point lead in the first five minutes of the game. Mississippi State rallied to tie the game and then the Bulldogs captured a two-point lead with just over 10 minutes to play in the first half. Arkansas jumped back out in front for good and took a five-point edge into the locker room at 37-32.
Walker was superb in the first 20 minutes for the Hogs hitting all five of his shots from the field including four treys. The Pine Bluff, Ark. native had 16 points by the break.
Arkansas picked right back up where it left off in the opening moments of the second half when Gipson drained a three-pointer in the Hogs’ first possession. The Razorbacks’ controlled the pace in the second half and built what looked to be an insurmountable 15-point lead with just over four minutes to play in the game.
The Bulldogs put on a late rally however and back-to-back three pointers from Antonio Jackson brought the home team to within three points with under a minute to play. Johnson made one of two free throws to up the lead to four points before Razorback freshman Carl Baker blocked a Derrick Zimmerman shot to preserve the lead.
Arkansas gained possession and a pair of free throws from Gipson along with a three-point play from Johnson sealed the 87-81 victory.
“What you like most about this win is now we have a chance to go home and play some games,” Richardson said. “We’ve got some confidence and I like our chances playing at home. As long as we continue to improve we are going to be all right.”
The Razorbacks return home to host nationally ranked Florida on Tuesday night at Bud Walton Arena. The 8:05 p.m. game will be televised by ESPN.
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