FAYETTEVILLE – Marshawn Powell scored 27 points to lead the Univ. of Arkansas men’s basketball team against the No. 16 Vanderbilt Commodores on Saturday afternoon, but poor shooting by the Razorbacks led to an 89-72 loss at Bud Walton Arena.
Arkansas (14-15, 7-7 SEC) drops just its second Southeastern Conference game at home this season while Vanderbilt (22-6, 11-3 SEC) moves to just one game behind second-ranked Kentucky who lost at Tennessee earlier in the day.
"It was another tough day for us," Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey said. "Vanderbilt is a great team and they got off to a good start. We battled and had a chance to cut it to five at the end of the first half, but I’m not really sure how close we were at that point. Marshawn carried us through the first half. It’s been a tough week."
Turnovers on each of Arkansas’ first three possessions allowed Vanderbilt to jump out to a 6-0 lead. The Razorbacks would close the gap to 6-4 before an 8-1 run by the Commodores gave Vanderbilt a 14-5 advantage. Arkansas picked up its defense and Powell got in a scoring rhythm to close the gap, but a great shooting half by the Commodores kept them ahead throughout the opening 20 minutes.
Powell scored 21 over the opening 20 minutes to post his fourth 20-plus point game of the season and third in four games. Vanderbilt, however, shot a stunning 65 percent to counter eight turnovers in the first half to go into the break with a 10-point lead, 45-35.
Vanderbilt was unable to maintain the same shooting in the second half as it did in the first, but poor shooting by the Razorbacks allowed the Commodores to increase their lead. The Hogs hit just 34 percent from the floor over the final 20 minutes of the game and missed their first six free throw attempts compounding the issue.
Powell led all scorers with his 27-point effort. Rotnei Clarke (14) and Mike Washington (11) were the other Razorbacks to score in double figures. Clarke buried four three-point baskets to give him 95 on the year and place himself in a tie for third on Arkansas’ single-season charts. Clarke is just seven three-point baskets away from Scotty Thurman’s single-season record of 102 which he set in 1995. Washington’s 11 points and 13 rebounds is his fifth double-double of the season and 19th of his career. Washington was playing on a sprained ankle which he hurt on Tuesday and kept him out of the LSU game.
The Razorbacks play their final road contest of the season on Wednesday night in Knoxville, Tenn., when they take on the Tennessee Volunteers at 6 p.m. central.