NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Senior Mike Washington ended his Arkansas career with 20 points and moved into 29th on Arkansas’ all-time scoring list, but despite a big second half from Washington and sophomore Courtney Fortson, the Razorback men’s basketball team could not rally against the Georgia Bulldogs in the first round of the Southeastern Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament late Thursday night, losing 77-64.
Arkansas (14-18, 7-9 SEC) struggled with its shot the entire night, hitting just 39 percent for the game and knocking down just one three-point basket. Georgia (14-16, 5-11 SEC) came out hot and while it cooled off in the final 20 minutes, was still able to shoot 46 percent from the floor to earn the victory.
"You have to give credit to Georgia," Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey said. I thought that their defense was tremendous all night and we just couldn’t get back into it. We had a chance, down by five, late in the game, but didn’t hit enough shots down the stretch."
Washington’s night saw him pass Eric Ferguson on Arkansas’ all-time scoring charts and end up just two points behind Tommy Boyer for 28th on the list. Washington ends his legendary Razorback career with 1,065 points, 651 rebounds and 107 blocks to ranks 29th, ninth and sixth, respectively.
Along with Washington’s 20 points, Fortson scored 16, many in the second half as he was aggressive to the basket and Marshawn Powell scored 10 while also grabbing a team high six rebounds.
Despite a poor shooting night in the first half, Arkansas was still within five with seconds remaining in the first half. Georgia hit 51 percent of its shots to just 39 for the Razorbacks, but a three-point basket at the buzzer by the Bulldogs Ricky McPhee hurt as the teams went into the locker room. At the break, the Bulldogs held an eight-point 40-32 lead.
Arkansas’ defense picked up in the second half giving Georgia fits on the offensive end of the floor. Arkansas forced the Bulldogs into 17 turnovers in the game while committing nine steals and blocking five would-be shots. The Razorbacks pounded the ball inside and went to the free throw line 21 times over the final 20 minutes.
Georgia was led by Trey Thompkins who earned a double-double scoring a team-high 23 points and pulling down 13 rebounds while Travis Leslie contributed 21 points for the Bulldogs.
A game-opening dunk by Washington gave the Razorbacks an early lead but Georgia took advantage with an 18-6 run to grab an 18-8 lead with 12:43 to play in the first. Arkansas closed the gap quickly four minutes later. Fortson hit a three-pointer to start the run. A quick steal and layup from Julysses Nobles and a free throw from Fortson completed a 6-0 Razorback run in only 22 seconds of clock time to make it 25-23. Less than a minute later Arkansas closed it to a single point. In the process, Washington passed former Razorback Eric Ferguson to move into 29th on the all-time scoring list at Arkansas.
The second half saw Arkansas fall behind by as many as 11 early, but fought back to within three with 10:22 to play on a pair of free throws by Washington. The Hogs hung around with a single-digit deficit until the closing moments of the contest when Georgia was able to pull ahead as the Razorbacks pressed.
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