MOBILE, Ala. — Stefan Welsh’s three-pointer from the top of the key with 2.9 seconds left was the game-winner and gave Arkansas its first lead of the second half as the Razorbacks posted a 79-77 victory at South Alabama on Wednesday.
Head coach John Pelphrey returned to the campus where he led the Jaguars to an 80-67 record in five seasons from 2003-07, including an NCAA Tournament appearance and 24-7 record in 2006, and a spot in the NIT and a 20-12 mark in 2007.
Pelphrey’s Hogs trailed 64-54 with 12:28 left, but Arkansas made a season-high 12 three-pointers, had more assists (16) than turnovers (12) for the first time this year and out-rebounded its opponent (36-31) for the fourth time in four games.
The Razorbacks (3-1) got the win even with junior center Michael Washington visibly bothered by a sore back and with freshman forward Michael Sanchez logging just 20 minutes due to foul trouble.
Down 77-73, freshman Rotnei Clarke’s three from the right corner got Arkansas within one with 47 seconds to go.
Following two missed Jaguar (2-3) free throws with 19 seconds left, Arkansas rebounded and without a timeout moved to the offensive end. Welsh came around two screens to hit the decisive shot.
Welsh finished with career highs of 24 points and nine rebounds. Freshman Courtney Fortson, playing in front of 20-to-25 friends and family members from his hometown of Montgomery, had a game-high 25 points on 8-of-11 shooting, including 4-of-4 on threes. Clarke had 12 points, and Washington eight points and a game-high 13 rebounds.
In the first half, Arkansas led by as much as five, 25-20, and trailed by as much as six. The first period featured four ties and nine lead changes before South Alabama took a 45-44 lead to the locker room.
Domonic Tilford led the Jaguars with 23 points while Brandon Davis had 18 points and eight rebounds.
Arkansas plays host to Florida A&M at 2:05 p.m. on Saturday in Bud Walton Arena.