BATON ROUGE, La. – The final three-point attempt from junior Jeff Peterson with two seconds left could not find the bottom of the net on Wednesday night and allowed LSU to escape with the 56-53 victory over Arkansas at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
The Razorbacks (11-4, 1-1), who were down by 14 at the half, put on a furious rally in the second half and nearly took LSU (10-7, 2-0) to overtime had the final shot fallen. In the second half alone, the Hogs shot nearly 30 percent better, while also holding LSU to only 7-of-20, a key part of the Hogs comeback.
“Have to give credit to LSU,” said Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey, “they had a game plan and they executed it. We certainly couldn’t make it back when we struggled from the perimeter, but we did some good things in the second half to come back.”
Through the first five minutes of the second half, the Tigers would actually extend their lead to 18, their largest of the night, but the Razorbacks would then get six straight points from senior Delvon Johnson, to cut the lead to 12. Add on a Rotnei Clarke three-pointer and the lead was at single-digits, forcing LSU head coach Trent Johnson to call a timeout.
With just under nine minutes to play, sophomore Marshawn Powell would continue his strong second half outing to score five straight points of his own and cut the LSU lead to 48-43. Johnson would add on two more points as part of a 7-0 run that lasted nearly six minutes. At that point, the Hogs found themselves within striking distance with three minutes to play.
It then became a game of free throws, as LSU was sent to the line seven times in the final minutes and knocking down 8-of-14 from the charity stripe, keeping the Hogs at bay. The closest the Hogs would get is a two point difference with 11 seconds to go after a layup by Powell. Arkansas was forced to foul on the next LSU possession and would get the chance to tie after Eddie Ludwig missed the second of two free-throws. Unfortunately, Peterson’s three-point attempt from the top of the key couldn’t find the bucket.
Powell would lead all Razorbacks in the point category for the game, going 7-for-12 from the field, good for 15 points. Johnson would follow with 10 points and five rebounds. It was also another tough night for the Hogs from behind the three-point line as the team was 2-for-20, forcing them to score 30 of their 53 points in the paint.
Both the Tigers and Razorbacks struggled from the field early in the first half. The Razorbacks did score the first points of the game after two Clarke free throws, but that would be the last time the Hogs would see the lead for the rest of the first half. LSU would go on a 6-2 run soon after that and continue their strong defensive performance throughout the first 20 minutes of play. The Razorbacks actually started the game 0-6 from the field before finally getting a layup from Powell at the 14:57 mark.
The woes were not limited to just shooting for the Hogs, as the Tigers out-rebounded the Razorbacks 30-14 in the first half, with 11 being on offense. It was the Tigers second-chance opportunities and high shooting percentage that helped them build a 31-17 lead at halftime. A glaring 19 percent from the field for the Hogs was the most noticeable stat of the first half.
The men’s basketball team will continue their SEC schedule this weekend when they return home to take on the Alabama Crimson Tide at 12:30 p.m. The game will be televised by the SEC Network. For all information regarding the Razorback men’s basketball team, log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com.