Johnson Sparks Hogs to Upset Win
BY ANDRES FOCIL
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Freshman Joe Johnson scored 22 points including a 40-foot basket at the end of the first half to lead the Arkansas Razorbacks to an upset win over No. 13 Auburn at Bud Walton Arena on Sunday afternoon.
Johnson hit eight of 15 from the field including the long-range three-point shot to beat the intermission buzzer. He also earned his first career double-double with a career high 10 rebounds. Senior Chris Walker responded with 15 points in his final regular season home game in front of 19,842 at Bud Walton Arena.
Arkansas (15-14, 7-9 SEC) earned third place in the SEC West with the victory and captured the third seed in next week’s SEC Tournament in Atlanta, Ga. Auburn (21-8, 9-7 SEC) dropped its fourth straight and third in a row since senior Chris Porter was suspended.
Mack McGadney led Auburn with 19 points while Doc Robinson chipped in 13 in the losing cause.
“Our kids have been playing well,” Arkansas head coach Nolan Richardson said. “I was happy we hung in there and put the game away. In the last month we have been playing some excellent basketball, but we haven’t made the big play at the end to win a game. I was pleased and proud of our kids today.”
Both teams traded the advantage in a first half that featured six lead changes. Auburn held a two-point lead in the final seconds of the half before Johnson cashed in on a 40-foot running one-hander from near halfcourt to give Arkansas a 34-32 halftime lead.
Auburn made an early second half run, but never got closer than two points before the Razorbacks started to pull away. The Tigers made a couple of late charges, but never cut the lead to less than six in the final 12 minutes. Sophomore Teddy Gipson scored five straight points including a crowd-pleasing alley-oop dunk in the second half while Carl Baker, Walker and Johnson all earned free throws late to ice the 64-55 victory.
“To win you have to make big plays,” Richardson said. “Teddy Gipson made two big plays, one on a slash to the goal and the other on the alley oop that looked like it was going over the backboard until he dunked it. Larry Satchell made his first start and gave us 19 good minutes. We expect Joe Johnson to have a big game and he did. I feel good about this team and the way we are playing.”
Arkansas will travel to Atlanta, Ga. to battle the Georgia Bulldogs in first round action of the SEC Tournament on Thursday at 8:45 p.m. CT. The first-round matchup will be televised by Jefferson-Pilot Sports.
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