FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) -Gary Ervin scored 20 points against his former team, and freshman Patrick Beverley made some big shots late to help Arkansas to a 67-58 victory over Mississippi State on Wednesday night.
Freshman Stefan Welsh added a career-high 16 points for the Razorbacks, whose struggles this season have prompted speculation about coach Stan Heath’s job security.
Ervin, playing his first season at Arkansas after transferring from Mississippi State, was held scoreless during an 84-60 loss to the Bulldogs earlier this season. But he and his teammates played hard in their final regular-season home game.
When it was over, Arkansas players danced around the court and celebrated in front of the student section.
Beverley scored 10 points for the Razorbacks (17-12, 6-9 Southeastern Conference). Jamont Gordon led Mississippi State (16-12, 7-8) with 23.
The Bulldogs’ loss – along with that of rival Ole Miss – means no SEC West team will finish with a winning record in league play this year. Four teams are tied for first at 7-8 – and none are guaranteed to make the NCAA tournament.
Arkansas trailed 50-44 in the second half before scoring seven straight points to take the lead. The teams exchanged leads after that, with the Razorbacks going ahead 61-56 on the second of two big 3-pointers by Beverley.
Later, with the shot clock running down, Beverley faked Mississippi State’s Reginald Delk in the air and drew a foul shooting a 3-pointer. He made all three free throws for a 64-58 advantage with 2:30 to play.
Mississippi State led by as many as 10 in the first half, but Arkansas pulled to 32-30 at halftime on Welsh’s long 3-pointer in the final seconds.
The game featured some aggressive play and attitudes. Welsh fouled Gordon hard on a breakaway in the first half, then was called for a technical foul after saying something in Gordon’s direction.
With 16:28 remaining in the second half, Ervin drew a foul under the basket, then appeared to say something in the direction of Mississippi State center Charles Rhodes. Rhodes then walked over to Ervin and bumped him a bit, sparking a brief skirmish that brought both coaches onto the court to break it up.
After that, the somewhat sparse crowd of 12,724 came alive. Before then, the highlight for the home fans might have been the halftime ceremony. Arkansas’ Darren McFadden was presented with his trophy for winning the Doak Walker Award as the nation’s best running back.
Rhodes scored 22 points for the Bulldogs, who had 20 offensive rebounds. Arkansas had 14 offensive rebounds.
The Razorbacks enjoyed a significant advantage from 3-point range. They shot 10-of-20 after going 4-of-26 in their previous two games. Mississippi State went 1-of-15 against the Razorbacks after shooting 11-of-19 against them earlier this season.
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