FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The nation’s top scorer was on his game while Arkansas struggled shooting for the second straight game, and Western Carolina knocked off the Razorbacks Monday, 62-59, in overtime.
WCU’s Kevin Martin entered the game leading the country in scoring with 28.0 points a game and that average will improve after he got 33 on nine of 16 shooting against the Razorbacks.
Meanwhile, Arkansas, which made just 21 of 60 shots, including four of 23 three-pointers, and was 12 of 23 at the line in Saturday’s loss to Oklahoma State, continued to struggle shooting. The Razorbacks made only 21 of 70 shots Monday (.300), including five of 26 threes, and they were 12 of 22 at the line.
“Our worst fears came true tonight,” head coach Stan Heath said. “We worried that Kevin Martin would carry the load for their team, and he did. We wanted to play him one-on-one, but we had a hard time defending him. Hopefully, this will be a wake up call. We’ll be playing much bigger, faster and stronger teams in the near future. Because we are a young team, we don’t have the luxury of going out and expecting a win every time. The coaches are going to have to pick it up, too.”
Arkansas (6-3) had its best rebounding game of the year, setting season highs with 23 offensive boards, 28 defensive boards and 51 total rebounds for a 13-rebound advantage, and UA forced 20 turnovers, but the Razorbacks also lost the ball 20 times.
UA led 22-20 at the half, but trailed most of the second half. Down 49-42 with 2:01 remaining, Charles Tatum hit a three to cut the margin to four. Down 51-45 with 1:11 left, Ronnie Brewer made a free throw, Kendrick Davis connected on a three and Jonathon Modica scored his first points of the game on a dunk after a steal at midcourt to tie the game at 51-51.
Kyle Greathouse missed a shot at the buzzer for the Catamounts, but Martin, who had 26 points in the second half and overtime, made three free throws to give WCU (5-3) a 56-53 lead with 3:32 remaining.
Modica made two free throws for his only other points of the night to get the Hogs within 56-55, but Martin answered with a 13-footer and then drained a deep three from the top of the key for a 61-57 lead with 1:14 to go. Billy Pharis’ jumper pulled UA within two, but Corey Muirhead made a free throw with 23 seconds left for the three-point margin and Arkansas missed several shots at the end.
“We are having some terrible offensive woes because we can’t seem to put the ball in the basket,” Heath said. “We seem to be executing well at times, but we just can’t finish. I’m not sure if it’s part mental or it’s going to take hours of extra shots.”
While Martin got untracked in the second half, Modica, who entered the game third in the Southeastern Conference in scoring with 21.4 points a game, was held to four points on one of seven shooting. He failed to lead the team in scoring for the first time this year, ending his streak at eight games, which ties Joe Kleine and Marvin Delph for the second-longest streaks since 1976. Todd Day led the team in scoring in nine straight games in 1991.
Brewer had 15 points and 10 rebounds, but he made just five of 17 shots and five of 11 free throws. Pharis had 10 points and six rebounds, and Rashard Sullivan had 12 rebounds and three blocked shots along with three points.
Arkansas is off until Dec. 30 when the Razorbacks travel to Tulsa for a 7:05 p.m. game which is being televised by ARSN.