GAINESVILLE, Fla. – After erasing a nine-point deficit and taking its first lead of the second half with 11.5 seconds left, the No. 25 Arkansas men’s basketball team’s furious comeback on the road at Florida came up just short as Michael Frazier hit a pair of free throws with 1.9 seconds on the clock to give the Gators a 57-56 win Saturday afternoon on CBS.
The wild final 20 seconds started when senior Alandise Harris made 1-of-2 free throws to bring the Razorbacks within one, 55-54, and the rebound off the missed second shot was gathered up and put in by freshman Anton Beard to give the Razorbacks a 56-55 advantage.
Trailing for the first time in the second half with 11.5 seconds remaining, Florida freshman Chris Chiozza was able to attack the right side of the paint but his layup caromed off the other side of the rim to Frazier who was fouled trying for the put-back with 1.8 second left. Entering the game an 86 percent free throw shooter, Frazier made both and Arkansas never got off a game-winning attempt as the Gators escaped with the win.
The loss snaps a three-game win streak and denies the Razorbacks (16-5) their third SEC road win of the young season, while they’ve played four straight games decided by five points or less. Arkansas and Florida (12-9) each now stand at 5-3 in SEC action.
Entering the game as the SEC’s leading scorer, sophomore Bobby Portis showed why he’s one of eight players up for the Wooden Award, Oscar Robertson Trophy and Lute Olson Award by scoring 10 straight points for the Razorbacks late in the second half, a run that made it 55-53 heading into the final two minutes.
Portis finished with game-highs of 21 points and 10 rebounds for his sixth double in eight SEC games. Making his first career start, Beard was the only other Arkansas player in double figures with 10 points in 31 minutes of work.
Arkansas nearly picked up its fourth win when trailing at the half in SEC play thanks to holding Florida to just seven made field goals (7-22) in the second half with seven turnovers. The Gators shot 35 percent (18-52) for the game, but were able to take advantage at the free throw line where they were 17-of-25 compared to just 5-of-7 by Arkansas.
Worthy Of A Hog Call (#WPS)
After going the first 10 games without a double-double, including four narrow misses of two rebounds or less, Portis has eight double-doubles in Arkansas’ last 11 games. One game removed from having his program record five-game double-double streak in SEC play snapped, the Little Rock natives 20 and 10 performance was his fourth of the season. Portis is now tied with junior Michael Qualls with eight 20-point games after just one in 2013-14.
#RazorStat Of The Game
Arkansas’ improvement on the defensive end has resulted in its last three opponents averaging 60.3 points, including 27.0 in the second half. All three opponents have failed to score 30 points in the second half while they have a combined 41 points in the final 10 minutes of those games. After going up nine, 53-44, with 6:24 left, Florida had just one made field goal the rest of the way.
@RazorbackMBB Quick Hits
• Loss snaps a three-game win streak for Arkansas as it was looking to start 3-1 in SEC road games for the third time in program history (91-92, 97-98).
• Florida’s 57 points are the least given up by the Razorbacks in SEC play this season.
• Six of Arkansas’ eight SEC games have been decided by five points or less.
• Portis has led Arkansas in scoring and rebounding in the same game 10 times.
• Portis has reached double figures in a career-best 16 straight games.
• Portis’ 12-point second half gives him 16 double figure performances in a half this year.
• Beard has reached double figures in four SEC games after doing so once in non-conference action.
Arkansas will look to return to its winning ways on Tuesday night when it begins a two-game home week at Bud Walton Arena with South Carolina. Tip is slated for 8 p.m. CT on the SEC Network.