STARKVILLE, Miss. — Arkansas played well much of the game, but Mississippi State was too big and too strong inside as the No. 22 Bulldogs wore down the Razorbacks, 80-62, Saturday in the second Southeastern Conference game of the year for each club.
The loss dropped Arkansas to 8-5 overall and 0-2 in the SEC while MSU improved to 13-0 and 2-0.
MSU’s lineup features 6-9 junior forward Lawrence Roberts, 7-0 junior center Marcus Campbell and 6-8 senior forward Branden Vincent. Mississippi State outscored Arkansas 48-26 in the paint with that trio combining for 41 points. They also had 27 rebounds and made 17 of 26 shots.
Roberts, a transfer from Baylor, made 11 of 19 shots and had game highs of 29 points and 11 rebounds. Campbell made four of six shots and finished with eight points and 10 boards, and Vincent hit two of two shots to finish with four points and six rebounds.
Despite the distinct size disadvantage, UA trailed just 40-33 at the half and was within three several times in the first period. The first half turned into a shootout between Roberts and Arkansas’ Billy Pharis.
Pharis, who had 21 points and 11 rebounds against LSU on Tuesday, made seven of 14 shots, including four of seven threes, and finished with 18 points. He had 15 of those points in the first half, while Roberts had 19, to keep the Razorbacks in the game.
Arkansas trailed by 12 early, 19-7, but cut the deficit to three four times in the first half, the last coming on a layup by Pharis to get UA within 29-26 with 4:41 to play. Shane Power answered with two free throws and Roberts scored on a layup for a seven-point MSU lead, and the Bulldogs pushed it to 10 on a three by Winsome Frazier before a trey by Kendrick Davis got the Hogs within the halftime margin.
In the second period, MSU quickly increased the lead to 46-33 on two free throws by Roberts and a dunk by Campbell. UA closed within 46-39 on a free throw by Vincent Hunter, but Roberts scored six points over the next 1:40 to give the Bulldogs a 58-43 lead with 11:51 to play.
Pharis got Arkansas within 12 with a three 30 seconds later but that was as close as Arkansas would get.
In the first half, Arkansas shot 46.2 percent while holding MSU to 44.1 percent, but in the second period, State hit 51.6 percent of its shots while Arkansas shot just 35.5 percent.
The Bulldogs had a 45-32 rebounding advantage with 21 of those boards coming on the offensive end. Arkansas also turned the ball over 19 times and MSU had a 19-11 scoring advantage off turnovers.
Power added 14 points for Mississippi State.
Ronnie Brewer had 14 points and team highs of seven rebounds and five assists for Arkansas. Davis hit three of six shots and three of four free throws for 10 points, and Jonathon Modica added nine points.
Arkansas travels to Alabama for a 7 p.m. non-televised game on Wednesday.