AUBURN, Ala. – Delvon Johnson slammed a dunk down with six seconds to play to give the University of Arkansas men’s basketball team a 57-55 victory in Southeastern Conference play against the Auburn Tigers in Auburn, Ala., on Saturday afternoon.
The victory gives Arkansas (18-10, 7-7 SEC) its second consecutive conference win and ensures that the Razorbacks will be in at least a tie for second in the SEC’s Western Division at the end of Saturday’s action. Auburn (9-19, 2-12 SEC) loses its second game in a row on a last second basket, dropping its game on Wednesday night to Alabama at the buzzer.
"I am really proud of our guys," Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey said. "I thought they came out and competed, especially early. Our defense where I would like to have been in the second half and that allowed Auburn to come back, but our guys hung in there and competed the entire 40 minutes."
After a layup by Auburn’s Kenny Gabriel with 29 seconds left on the clock which tied the game at 55, Arkansas called a timeout to set up the final play. The Razorbacks gave the ball to Julysses Nobles and let him hold it as the clock ticked down, then ran a pair of screens for Rotnei Clarke which Auburn jumped on. Nobles, seeing the Auburn defense jumping out on Clarke, fired a pass 25 feet into the low post to Johnson who elevated and slammed the ball with two hands for the game-winning basket.
"That was my first," Johnson said of the game-winning score. "I have never hit a game-winner in my career, peewee, high school, college, never. Everyone dreams of hitting the game-winning shot and in my mind I hit a three to win one, but this was even better than what I dreamed."
The Razorbacks led 27-20 at the break as the Hogs shot 44 percent over the opening 20 minutes. Clarke scored seven of his game-high 17 in the opening period while Marcus Britt had five points and team high three rebounds. Arkansas held Auburn to just 25 percent shooting including just one three-point basket which was counted on the last shot of the period after goaltending was called on a shot that appeared to be short.
The Tigers played much better over the final 20 minutes as they turned the ball over just one time and shot 46 percent from the field. The improved play allowed them to whittle away on the Arkansas lead which was as many as 13 early in the half. The Razorbacks led by seven with 3:49 left on the clock, but missed shots and turnovers down the stretch allowed the Tigers to tie the score leading to the final play for the Razorbacks.
Clarke led the Hogs with 17 while Britt tallied 10 and grabbed a team and career high seven rebounds. Britt, who has played two very good games back-to-back against Kentucky and Auburn, was 4-of-7 from the field, 2-of-5 from three, grabbed seven rebounds, had two assists, one block, one steal and no turnovers.
Auburn was led by Gabriel who scored 13 points, 11 in the final 20 minutes, and Earnest Ross who had 11. Ross also matched Britt and Arkansas’ Johnson with seven rebounds.
Arkansas’ sweep of the Auburn Tigers this season is its first since the 2008-09 season and the victory is the Razorbacks’ eighth, and first in the Tigers’ new arena, in 20 trips to the Plains.
The Razorbacks return home to face the Mississippi State Bulldogs on Wednesday night at Bud Walton Arena. Tip is slated for 8 p.m. and the game is senior night when Arkansas’ three senior players will be honored in a pregame ceremony.