FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Sophomore Rotnei Clarke hit 10 three-point baskets for the second time this season including seven in the second half, but despite his efforts and that of the Arkansas men’s basketball team the Razorbacks were unable to defeat East Tennessee State at Bud Walton Arena on Friday night, losing 94-85.
The Razorbacks fall to 2-3 on the year while East Tennessee State evens its record to 3-3.
"I thought that we had another good start," Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey said. "Then they hit four straight three pointers and we just didn’t seem to recover. I thought that in the second half we fought and scratched, but couldn’t get over the top. Our offensive numbers are good; we just have to find a way."
The Razorbacks started well as they jumped out to a 19-12 lead through the first six minutes of play. Clarke poured in three of four three-point shots and Jemal Farmer scored six more to account for a majority of the Arkansas points.
With Arkansas up 22-15, East Tennessee went on a 14-1 run over a 2:11 span that included four three-point baskets making it a 29-23 game in favor of the Buccaneers. Once East Tennessee took the lead with 9:25 to play in the half, it never looked back over the opening 20 minutes and went into the break holding a 16 point lead, 48-32.
The second half began with both teams trading baskets, but Arkansas was able to take advantage of some missed East Tennessee shots and get its deficit down to nine with 15:29 to play. The Buccaneers would again lead by 16 moments later, but with 10:24 to play East Tennessee was called for an intentional foul on Mike Washington which brought the Bud Walton Arena crowd alive and rejuvenated the Razorback offense. Washington hit one of his two free throws and on the ensuing possession Steph Welsh buried a three pointer to make it another nine-point deficit. Several possessions later, Clarke hit another three-point basket with 8:10 to play which put Arkansas as close as it had been since late in the first half at 65-71. Following the intentional foul, the Razorbacks went on an 11-2 run over 2:10 on the clock to get within striking distance.
The East Tennessee rain of three-pointers continued down the stretch as the Buccaneers buried a Bud Walton Arena opponent record 11 of 14 (78.6%) for the game which ultimately proved to be the difference.
Four Razorbacks scored in double figures in the game along with Clarke’s 32, Washington and Farmer each scored 13 and Welsh hit for 10. Freshman point guard Julysses Nobles also had a solid showing for the Razorbacks with five points, two rebounds, 11 assists and just three turnovers.
Clarke’s early season success has been stunning this year as the Verdigris, Okla., native has scored 30 or more points two times this season. His 32 on Friday night is the fourth time in his career that he has hit for at least 20 in a game and the third time in five games this season.
The Razorbacks are back in action on Sunday afternoon, Nov. 29, when they take on South Alabama at Bud Walton Arena at 2 p.m. For more information regarding Razorback men’s basketball or University of Arkansas athletics, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.