FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Assistant head coach Mike Anderson assumed the role of interim head coach on Saturday and guided the Razorbacks to an 81-67 win over Vanderbilt in the regular-season finale.
Nolan Richardson was released from his contract on Friday after 17 years at the school. Anderson, an assistant to Richardson all 17 seasons at UA, received double-figure scoring efforts from five players on Saturday as the Hogs evened their record at 14-14 and finished 6-10 in the Southeastern Conference’s Western Division. Vanderbilt is 16-13 and 6-10.
Arkansas will play Tennessee at 2:15 on Thursday, March 7, in the first round of the SEC Tournament in Atlanta.
On Senior Day at Bud Walton Arena, all four of UA’s departing seniors scored in double figures, led by Teddy Gipson’s season-high 19-point performance on eight of 14 shooting. Brandon Dean had 16 points, and T.J. Cleveland and Jannero Pargo 10 each. Junior Carl Baker also scored 10.
Arkansas shot 53.8 percent in the second half (14-26) while holding the Commodores to 40 percent (12-30) to break open a tight game.
The game was tied at 42-42 with 17:45 to play but Arkansas scored 13 straight points to take control. Pargo had six points and Gipson four in the run.
Vanderbilt closed within 62-55 with 8:33 remaining, but a 7-0 run put the game away. Baker made four free throws in that spurt.
Arkansas’ 47.5 shooting percentage (28-59) is its best in nine games, since shooting 47.8 percent in the 94-92 overtime win over then-No. 4 Florida.
Freshmen J.J. Sullinger and Matt Jones added five points each for Arkansas while Dean had team highs of six rebounds and five assists. Gipson had four assists, and Cleveland had three assists and three steals.
Vanderbilt was led by Sam Howard, who had 20 points on seven of nine shooting, including six of seven three-pointers. Matt Freije had 18 points and eight rebounds.