FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Sophomore Marshawn Powell scored 16 points to lead his team, but clutch free throw shooting by Georgia in the closing seconds would allow the Bulldogs to squeak by Arkansas with a 60-59 win at Bud Walton Arena on Wednesday night. Powell’s point total would make him the only Hog in double figure scoring, but it was Georgia, who would shoot a scorching 52 percent from the floor in the second half to earn the victory.
With the loss, Arkansas falls to 14-7 overall and 4-4 in conference play. The loss is also their first in Bud Walton Arena this season. On their home court they are now 12-1 this year. Coming in, it was their third best start at the arena since the year it opened in the 93-94 season. Georgia, on the other hand, improves to 15-6 overall and 4-4 in SEC play. This breaks a two-game losing streak for the Bulldogs.
“This was a hard fought game,” said Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey. “Both teams were competing very hard and we were fortunate to get (Trey) Thompkins into foul trouble in the first half, but we couldn’t take advantage of it. We didn’t rebound enough and the free throw line hurt us. Georgia is a good team and they outplayed us today.”
After taking a 25-22 lead at halftime, the Bulldogs would come out on a 14-5 run in the first seven plus minutes of the second half. Travis Leslie capped the run with a three-pointer and a layup to give the Bulldogs a 37-30 lead, their largest of the night. Arkansas would get the deficit to three and even two points on multiple occasions, but the Georgia offense would not allow the Hogs to take the momentum for the majority of the half and never relinquish the lead.
The game would become tied seven times in the second half alone, but Arkansas never seemed to be able to get over that hump and take the lead. In the final four minutes with the Bulldogs up by six, Arkansas would get a 6-0 run on the back of two layups by sophomore Julysses Nobles. Nobles would tie the game at 59 on spinning layup with 27 seconds to play. Georgia would play for the final shot on the other end and Trey Thompkins would be fouled with one second remaining and be sent to the free throw line. Thompkins would knock down the first and intentionally miss the second to give Arkansas no time to get up the court for a final shot.
From the field, Arkansas was very consistent, shooting 43 percent, while a second half explosion from Georgia would bump them up to 40 percent for the game. Senior Delvon Johnson had a near triple-double on the night as he had nine points, nine rebounds and seven blocks, one block short of his career high. Those seven blocks gives Johnson now 76 for the season.
As cold as it was outside Bud Walton Arena with the frigid temperatures, it was not much warmer inside as the Bulldogs and Hogs both struggled from the field early in the first half. At the first media timeout, both teams went a combined 2-for-12 from the field, but it was the Razorbacks who would be the owners of those two shots to take an early 4-0 lead.
Georgia would actually miss their first four shots from the field and most of that can be said because of the great defense that was played by the Razorbacks. Two blocks and two steals by the Hogs helped hold the Bulldogs to 18 percent shooting in the first seven minutes of play. For the entire first half, Arkansas would have six blocks and four steals. Four of those blocks would come from the hands of Johnson.
Later in the half, Arkansas would get a nine-point lead at the 6:45 mark after a three-pointer by junior Rotnei Clarke, his first of the night, but Georgia would then go on a mini 6-1 run to pull within two. Not long after a Jeremy Price layup made it 20-18 at the five minute mark, Arkansas would get a huge alley-oop from sophomore Glenn Bryant, courtesy of Nobles. The dunk would send the mostly student-filled arena into a frenzy. However, the dunk wouldn’t keep Georgia down for long as they kept the lead close and eventually would take a 25-22 Arkansas lead into the locker room.
The first half, overall, was very controlled inside the paint with very little offense outside the three point line. Arkansas would be led by Powell in the point category as he had six, while Clarke and freshman Mardracus Wade each added five points. Both Georgia and Arkansas would barely scratch off 10 shots made from the field, but the Hogs would be the more selective of the two, going 10-for-23 and 2-of-4 from three point land.
The men’s basketball team will return to action this Saturday when they take on Ole Miss at Bud Walton Arena. Tip-off is scheduled for 5 p.m. and will be televised by ESPN2. For all information regarding the Razorback men’s basketball team, log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com.