TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -Walter Hodge scored 16 points, Dan Werner added 15 points and 13 rebounds, and Florida beat Arkansas 73-58 on Thursday night in the first round of the Southeastern Conference Tournament at the St. Pete Times Forum.
Nick Calathes finished with 11 points, seven assists and six rebounds for the Gators, who defeated Arkansas for the fifth time in the last six meetings – and like many teams in the league – improved their chances of making the NCAA tournament.
Kentucky, Mississippi State, Alabama and the Gators advanced to the second round, all probably needing at least another victory to get consideration from the NCAA selection committee.
Florida had two seven-point and two eight-point leads in the first half, including 29-21 with 1:04 left on a Walter Hodge layup. Rotnei Clarke hit a three and Courtney Fortson a pair of free throws to get the Razorbacks within 29-26 at the break.
Clarke opened the second half with a three to tie the game and a Michael Washington jumper 30 seconds later tied it at 31-31.
The Gators (23-9) moved ahead 36-31, but a Marcus Britt three pulled the Hogs (14-16) within 39-38.
Florida went on a 15-3 scoring run over the next five minutes for a 54-41 lead with 10:34 remaining.
Arkansas got within 58-49 on a three-pointer by Stefan Welsh, but no closer.
Washington led the Razorbacks with 15 points and a career-high 18 rebounds. Clarke had 15 points and Britt 10.