Johnson Lifts Hogs to Conference Win
BY ANDRES FOCIL
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Razorback freshman Joe Johnson scored a career high 17 points including three key baskets down the stretch to lead Arkansas to a 71-64 win over Ole Miss in Southeastern Conference action at Bud Walton Arena on Wednesday night.
Johnson hit six of nine from the field and pulled down a team high nine rebounds to help the Hogs (9-5, 1-0 SEC) hold off a late run from the visiting Rebels (12-2, 0-1 SEC).
“Our guys played their hearts out,” Arkansas head coach Nolan Richardson said. “There are heroes in every game and we had several, but the big hero was Joe Johnson. He took over the game. When you have a player that can do that, you have a chance to win some games.”
Sophomores Jason Gilbert and Teddy Gipson scored 12 and 10 points respectively in the win. Rahim Lockhart led the Rebels with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Arkansas charged out to a 16-7 lead to start the game, but the Rebels came back to tie the game at 18 a piece. The two teams stayed close until halftime with the Hogs holding a five point lead at intermission at 39-34.
The Razorbacks upped the lead to seven early in the second half, but Ole Miss rallied for a 15-6 run that gave the Rebels a four-point spread with just under seven minutes to play.
Razorback sophomore Alonzo Lane tied the game at 59-59 with a free throw. Johnson then took over scoring six points and the Hogs hit six free throws to ice the victory.
“It’s important to win the first SEC game,” Richardson said. “It gives you a good taste. Our players were depressed after the Memphis game even though they played very hard. We had a young team on the floor a lot of the time tonight. We will continue to improve. If we can keep this group together and continue to work with them, we will have a good basketball team.
Arkansas returns to SEC play on Saturday when they host South Carolina at Bud Walton Arena. The two teams will battle at 2:05 p.m. in a game that will not be televised.
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