Arkansas won it’s first SEC road game in more than two years Sunday night, with a 80-73 victory over the 18th ranked and SEC West leading Ole Miss Rebels in Oxford.
Michael Washington led the Hogs with 22 points and 11 rebounds, and Marshawn Powell scored 19 points and grabbed 6 rebounds as Arkansas’ inside duo dominated the paint against the Rebels on the way to a hard fought SEC road win, Arkansas’ first since January 26, 2008 against LSU.
Arkansas trailed by as many as 8 points in the first half on two occasions, but the Hogs did not fold in front of a hostile road crowd at the Tad Pad Sunday night. The Hogs trailed 18-26 with 6:59 left in the first half, but were able to rally on a 12-4 run to tie the score at 30 on a pair of Washington free throws with 3:37 left in the first half.
Ole Miss closed the first half on a mini-run of their own, and Arkansas went into the locker room trailing 39-34 at the half.
Arkansas erased the 5 point deficit in the first four minutes of the second half though, and took their first lead of the second half on a Marshawn Powell layup with 16:06 to play in the game. Arkansas and Ole Miss traded blows for most of the rest of the second half, with no team leading by more than 5 points until a pair of Rotnei Clarke free throws put Arkansas up by 7 to ice the game for the Hogs.
Clarke came up big for the Hogs in the second half, scoring 13 of his 18 points in the final period including three big three-pointers at critical times, and four free throws down the stretch to put the game out of reach.
Arkansas played much of the second half of the game without their playmaker, Courtney Fortson, who was coming off a 35 point performance Thursday night against Misssissippi State. Fortson picked up his fourth foul with nearly 13 minutes to go in the game. Freshman point guard Julysses Nobles stepped in and played a solid 19 minutes, scoring 2 points, dishing out 2 assists, and nabbing two steals for the Hogs.
“We are very fortunate to get the win,” John Pelphrey said after the game. “I thought that the first 12 minutes our attitude wasn’t what it needed to be, but they played very well in the second half.”
Arkansas improves to just 10-11 on the season, but evened their conference record at 3-3 heading into a three game stretch of very winnable games at Georgia, and at home against Auburn, and LSU. Arkansas now sits at third place in the SEC west, and has beaten both of the teams ahead of them in the standings over the past week, with wins against Mississippi State and Ole Miss last week.
Next up, Arkansas will travel to Athens for a 6 pm matchup against the Georgia Bulldogs on Wednesday. The game will be televised by the CSS network.