STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) – Rashad Madden scored 16 points, Michael Qualls added 14 and No. 18 Arkansas rallied to beat Mississippi State 65-61 on Saturday.
Arkansas (22-5, 11-3) held Mississippi State scoreless for more than 6 minutes late in the second half to take control. The Razorbacks have won six straight games.
Mississippi State (12-15, 5-9) looked as if it had a good chance to pull the upset until its offense fell apart down the stretch. The Bulldogs went nearly 8 minutes without a field goal until Craig Sword made a 3-pointer with 33.1 seconds remaining to cut the Razorbacks’ lead to 60-57.
Mississippi State pulled to 61-59, but Arkansas’ Anton Beard had a crucial steal with 12 seconds remaining to seal the win.
Sword led Mississippi State with 15 points. Gavin Ware had 13 points and nine rebounds.
It was a much more competitive game than the first matchup between these two teams. Arkansas embarrassed Mississippi State in Fayetteville on Feb. 7, taking a 30-9 halftime lead and cruising to the victory.
The game was feisty early, especially after Arkansas’ Jacorey Williams was called for a flagrant foul after a hard hit on Mississippi State’s Roquez Johnson when he was going up for a fast-break dunk. The Bulldogs shot 13 of 29 (44.8 percent) in the first half, led by Ware’s eight points and seven rebounds.
Arkansas looked as if it might take control early in the second half, jumping out to a 40-36 lead, but Mississippi State stayed close until the end. The Bulldogs shot just 9 of 24 (37.5 percent) in the second half.
Bobby Portis made two free throws with 5:25 remaining to put the Razorbacks ahead for good. The 6-foot-11 forward had 13 points and nine rebounds.
Arkansas: The Razorbacks have won eight of their last 12 road games in conference play dating to last season. Arkansas has won nine of its last 10 overall.
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs’ starting point guard I.J. Ready didn’t play Saturday because of an ankle injury suffered against Ole Miss on Thursday night.