OXFORD, Miss. – Mike Washington scored 22 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead the Arkansas Razorback men’s basketball team to an 80-73 win on the road in Oxford, Miss., against the 18th-ranked Ole Miss Rebels on Sunday afternoon
Arkansas (10-11, 3-3 SEC) pick up a key road victory to keep pace with the leaders of the SEC’s western division. Ole Miss (16-5, 4-3 SEC) fall for second time at home this season to a conference opponent.
"We are very fortunate to get the win," Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey said. "We have a tremendous amount of respect for Ole Miss and I am very proud of our guys. I thought that the first 12 minutes our attitude wasn’t what it needed to be, but they played very well in the second half."
The Rebels scored the game’s first four points, but Arkansas came back with a bucket on the inside by Marshawn Powell and then a three by Courtney Fortson gave the Razorbacks their first lead of the contest. The Rebels retook the lead moments later and the beginnings of a back-and-forth contest were in the works. A flurry of activity allowed the Rebels to build an eight-point lead midway through the period, which included a technical foul against the Razorbacks.
Picking up the tempo, the Razorbacks were able to close within four, but quick baskets by the Rebels made it another eight-point lead with just under seven minutes left in the opening half. Arkansas would not allow the Rebels to get too far away as baskets by Washington and a three by Rotnei Clarke closed the gap. An acrobatic layup by Fortson under the basket made it a two-point game at the final media timeout of the first half. Arkansas would tie Ole Miss at 30 in the closing minutes, but the Rebels would score nine of the final 13 points of the half to go into the locker rooms up by five, 39-34.
Arkansas came out and went to straight to Powell to even the score at 45 just three minutes into the second half. Powell hit a pair of free throws and two layups to get six of the 11 Arkansas points and a Marcus Britt three forced Ole Miss to call a time out. Powell gave the Razorbacks their first lead since early in the opening half with another layup leading to a flurry of ties and lead changes.
The Razorbacks continued to go inside and have great success as Powell and Washington combined for 26 second-half points. Five lead changes between the 10 minute mark and the eight-minute media timeout at 5:06 eventually saw Arkansas hold a tenuous 67-66 lead.
Tied at 71, Clarke buried his fourth three pointer from the corner to give the Hogs a 74-71 lead with 2:46 left on the clock as the Hogs attempted to pull off the upset of the ranked Rebels on the road. The Razorbacks would not trail again after the Clarke three as Arkansas hit six of six free throws in the final moments to ice the contest.
Four Razorbacks scored in double figures in the contest, led by Washington’s 22. Powell scored 19 points with Clarke hitting for 18 including four three pointers. Courtney Fortson scored 10. Ole Miss ws led by Murphy Holloway who scored 19.
Significant in the contest was a Clarke three pointer in the opening half which moved his streak of games with at least one three pointer to 30 games and puts him halfway to former Razorback Pat Bradley’s all-time record of 60 games. Washington’s points also moved him to 45 from becoming the 33rd player in Arkansas history to record 1,000 points in his career. His 11 rebounds move him No. 12 on the Razorbacks’ all-time list, passing Charles Thomas.
Arkansas’ SEC road victory is its first since Jan. 26, 2008 when it defeated LSU in Baton Rouge and the road victory over a ranked opponent is Arkansas’ first since March 3, 2007 when it defeated No. 19 Vanderbilt in Nashville, 82-67.
The Razorbacks stay on the road for their next contest in Athens, Ga., against the Georgia Bulldogs, on Wednesday, February 3. For more information regarding Razorback men’s basketball or University of Arkansas athletics, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.