ORLANDO, Fla. – Arkansas overcame a five-point deficit with less than two minutes to play and outscored Southern Illinois 8-0 in overtime to pick up a 61-53 victory in the first round of the Old Spice Classic on Saturday.
The Razorbacks play Marist, a 63-56 winner over Minnesota,on Friday at 9:30 a.m. (central) in a game nationally televised by ESPN2.
Down 52-47 with 1:54 remaining, Charles Thomas and Steven Hill each made two free throws to pull the Razorbacks (3-0) within 52-51. Gary Ervin put the Hogs ahead by one with 16 seconds left, but Ervin was called for a foul on Jamal Tatum with seven seconds to go.
Tatum made one of two free throws and Darian Townes’ missed putback with two seconds to go sent the game to overtime.
In the extra period, Sonny Weems made a steal and hit two free throws to give UA the lead for good at 55-53. After a missed three by Tatum, Ervin got the rebound and drove for a lauup and a four-point advantage with 3:58 left.
Ervin fouled out with 3:09 left, leaving Arkansas with sophomore Sean McCurdy and freshman Patrick Beverley to face SIU’s defense.
McCurdy missed a three with 1:16 left, but Charles Thomas got the rebound and Weems eventually went to the line, where he made two more free throws.
Beverley added two free throws with 43 seconds to go for the final margin.
Both teams entered the game receiving votes for the top 25. Arkansas would have ranked No. 38, but the Salukis, who returned all five starters from last year’s 21-11 NCAA Tournament team, would have ranked No. 28.
Ervin had seven turnovers against SIU’s tough defense, but had 12 points, a game-high nine rebounds and five assists. Thomas led the team with 16 points on six-of-10 shooting. Beverley had 12 points on four-of-six shooting, five rebounds and four steals, and Townes had 12 points on five-of-six shooting.
Tatum paced SIU (2-1) with 17 points while Randal Falker had 14.
Download: siu box.pdf