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Winning streak ends with loss in SEC Opener

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Winning streak ends with loss in SEC Opener

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The Arkansas men’s basketball team (12-2) opened its 2009 Southeastern Conference schedule Saturday evening with a 70-56 loss to Mississippi State (11-5). The defeat snaps the Razorbacks’ 10-game winning streak and is the first home loss of the season.Michael Washington led the Razorbacks with his eighth double-double performance of the season, totaling 18 points and 15 boards, a career-high rebound mark. Freshman guard Rotnei Clarke added 14 points in the loss.A three-point basket by Clarke gave the home team a four-point lead, 41-37, with 16 minutes to play. The Bulldogs replied with an 11-0 run that saw them take a 50-41 advantage. Mississippi State would not trail again.Arkansas narrowed the gap to five but struggles on the offensive end of the floor kept the home team out of rhythm in the SEC opener. The Razorbacks shot 35.9 percent from the floor and posted just six points over the final 8:01 of the game.Dee Bost and Barry Stewart led Mississippi State with 17 points each. Jarvis Varnardo chipped in 16 points and nine rebounds.For the game, the Razorbacks shot 13.6 percent (3-of-22) from behind the three-point arc, while the visitors from Starkville connected on 11 of their 27 three-point tries.The Razorbacks scored the first bucket of the game, but the visitors reeled off ten unanswered points to take a 10-2 lead and forced an Arkansas timeout at the 16:52 mark. Arkansas fought back to tie the game at 20 on a layup by Courtney Fortson. A drive and dish by Fortson resulted in a dunk for Washington and the Razorbacks regained the lead, 24-23, with 7:17 to play in the opening half. Mississippi State pulled back ahead with a 7-2 run and held a two-point lead at halftime.Both teams shot 39 percent from the floor in the first half, but the Bulldogs connected on five three pointers, while Arkansas made just one of its 11 three-point attempts during the first 20 minutes of play.The Razorbacks fall to 4-2 when trailing at intermission.Arkansas hits the road for its next SEC contest, a Jan. 14 game against Ole Miss. The game is set for a 7 p.m. tip-off in Oxford, Miss. For continued coverage and more information, visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.



Sports Category : Basketball (M)