FAYETTEVILLE – On a night when senior Mike Washington became the 33rd player in Arkansas history to score 1,000 career points, the Razorback men’s basketball team was led by freshman Marshawn Powell’s 26 points in a 92-79 victory over South Carolina Wednesday at Bud Walton Arena
Arkansas (14-12, 7-4 SEC) has won four straight games on its home floor and remains in first place in the Southeastern Conference’s Western Division, a game in front of second place Mississippi State. South Carolina (14-11, 5-6 SEC) has now lost three of its last four contests.
"We are fortunate to have a chance to win this game," Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey said. We had trouble getting our defense into the game early, but I thought that Britt made a big play to end the half. The guys came out with tremendous effort to start the second half with Courtney [Fortson] and Marshawn in particular playing well."
While Powell led the Razorbacks in the scoring column with the fifth 20-plus point game of his career and a career best for an SEC game, the story of the game was the milestone by Washington. The senior from McGehee, Ark., joined legendary company with his 1,000th point and with his other career numbers became just the fourth player in Arkansas history to score 1,000 points, grab 600 rebounds and block 100 shots. This elite club includes all-time scorer Todd Day, Darian Townes and Derrick Hood.
Down by six with 11:56 on the clock in the first half, Arkansas went on an 11-3 run over a span of 2:38 on the clock to regain the lead, 27-25. The lead change precipitated the fourth tie of the contest before Powell scored six straight points in the post to give Arkansas its biggest lead of the game to that point, six points. That lead blossomed to seven at the half as the Razorbacks outscored the Gamecocks 13-6 over the final seven minutes of the half.
Arkansas’ halftime lead marks the third straight game that the Razorbacks held a lead at the break after going the first eight conference games behind with 20 minutes to play. Powell dominated the first half with 16 of the Razorbacks’ 40 points and the Razorback defense stepped up, holding the SEC’s leading scorer Devan Downey to just eight first-half points.
The Razorbacks came out ready to play in the second half, outscoring South Carolina 17-6 and forcing the Gamecocks to take two timeouts in order to stop the Arkansas momentum. The first timeout by the Gamecocks didn’t seem to work as it came in the middle of a 10-0 Razorback run that included three dunks, while the second came just before South Carolina’s fourth turnover of opening four minutes of the half and led to the third dunk, this one by Powell.
Courtney Fortson would drain a long three-point basket to give Arkansas a 21-point lead with 14:27 left on the clock. South Carolina picked up its defense, trapping in the back court, which led to a few easy baskets and allow it to close the gap, but the Razorbacks would maintain a 13-point cushion heading out of the final media timeout.
Fortson added 19 points, nine rebounds and eight assists for the Razorbacks, while Rotnei Clarke and Marcus Britt had 13 and 12 points, respectively. Washington finished the night with eight points. Off the bench, junior Delvon Johnson pulled down a career-high 10 rebounds, bettering his previous mark of four.
The Razorbacks go on the road for their next contest, a Saturday evening game with the Auburn Tigers.