ATHENS, Ga.- Courtney Fortson scored 27 points including 12 of 16 free throws to lead the University of Arkansas men’s basketball team to a 72-68 win over the Georgia Bulldogs at Stegeman Coliseum in Southeastern Conference action on Wednesday night in Athens, Ga.
Arkansas (11-11, 4-3 SEC) picks up its third-straight victory in SEC play and second straight on the road for the first time since the 2005-06 season, while also erasing the largest deficit by an Arkansas club in SEC play since head coach John Pelphrey took over the program. With the win and Mississippi State’s loss to Vanderbilt, Arkansas moved into a tie for first place in the SEC’s Western Division. Georgia (11-12, 2-6 SEC) dropped just its third game at home this season
"It was good to see the character of this team in the second half," Pelphrey said. "This isn’t the first time that we were down at the half, so we knew that we would be able to come back."
Arkansas opened the game as well as it could have hoped for as it scored the first five points of the game on a Marcus Britt three-pointer and Fortson layup. Georgia responded with the next 15 points to take the lead, aided by a trio of Arkansas turnovers. Arkansas finally ended their scoring drought which lasted seven minutes on a pair of free throws by Fortson.
Arkansas’ defense picked up the action midway through the period and forced several Georgia turnovers allowing Arkansas to cut into the Georgia advantage and make it a seven-point contest with seven minutes to play in the opening period. Arkansas came within five of the Bulldogs late in the period, but back-to-back buckets by the Bulldogs on the interior made it a nine-point Georgia lead with under four minutes to play. The first half ended with the Bulldogs going on a run to make it a 37-22 game at the break.
The Razorbacks again got off to a solid start in the second half and this time didn’t allow Georgia to regain momentum as Arkansas scored 11 of the first 17 points of the period to make it a 10-point contest. Arkansas’ comeback continued through the second media timeout as it used full court pressure to force Georgia turnovers and bad shots. The Razorbacks cut the Bulldog lead to three on a pair of Fortson free throws at 12:16, scoring 20 points over the first eight minutes of the period to Georgia’s seven. Following a steal, Mike Washington connected on a thunderous dunk to make it a one-point game and another turnover by the Bulldogs, their seventh of the second half, allowed Marshawn Powell to bury a 15-foot jumper to give the Razorbacks their first lead since early in the first. The Arkansas run to take the lead was 24-8 and continued with a pair of Washington free throws.
Following the Razorback comeback, the two squads would go back and forth with their scoring matching each other shot for shot through the 3:44 mark as the clock ticked away and the Razorbacks built a precarious situation with foul trouble.
Fortson made it a three-point Arkansas lead as the clock ticked under three minutes but the Bulldogs came back with a layup from Trey Thompkins. Tough defense in the closing moments of the contest would eventually lead the Razorbacks to the victory as Fortson hit 10 of 13 free throws in the second half, many in the closing moments.
The Razorbacks return to Bud Walton Arena for their next contest on Saturday afternoon against the Auburn Tigers with a 12:47 p.m. tipoff.