Hogs beat South Carolina, regain first place in the SEC West

After a disappointing loss at Alabama last week, Arkansas beat South Carolina 92-79 Wednesday night to retake sole possession of first place in the SEC west.

Marshawn Powell scored 26 points and grabbed 8 rebounds, and Courtney Fortson just missed a triple double with 19 points, 9 rebounds, and 8 assists to lead the Hogs.

Fortson told Powell before the game he was due for a big performance.

“(Fortson) told me I was due for a 20-point game,” Powell said after the game. “I just went out there and tried as hard as I could, and the shots were falling.”

The Hogs trailed by as many as 6 points early to the Gamecocks, but the Hogs went on a 11-3 run in the middle of the first half to take a 27-25 lead. By halftime, the Hogs had build a 7 point lead over the Gamecocks.

The Hogs opened the second half on a 20-6 run to extend their lead by forcing turnovers on defense resulting in dunks and layups in transition. Courtney Fortson’s three-pointer with 14:57 left extended the Hog lead to 21 points, 60-39.

South Carolina was able to cut the lead to 11 with just over five minutes to play, but never got any closer.

Arkansas faced the SEC scoring leader in South Carolina’s senior point guard Devan Downey Wednesday night. Downey came into the game averaging a league leading 23 points per game.

The Hogs rotated guards Marcus Britt, Stef Welsh, and Julysses Nobles on Downey for much of the game, frustrating the Gamecocks’ leader. Downey scored 28 against the Hogs, but many of his points came late in the game after the Hogs were in control.

Arkansas was able to beat South Carolina largely without center Mike Washington for much of the game. Washington got into early foul trouble (a recurring theme for him recently), but the Hogs’ big man did eclipse the 1,000 point milestone for his career at Arkansas Wednesday night. He became just the 33rd player at Arkansas to reach 1,000 points, and just the fourth player to score 1,000 points, grab 600 rebounds, and block 100 shots in his career. Washington finished the game with 8 points in just 13 minutes of action.

Arkansas improved to 14-12, and 7-4 in SEC play to take a one game lead over Mississippi State in the SEC West. Arkansas will hit the road this weekend to begin a two-game stretch against SEC bottom feeders Auburn and LSU before they close the regular season against top teams Vanderbilt, Tennessee, and Ole Miss.

The Hogs travel to Auburn for a 6 p.m. tipoff against the Tigers on Saturday. The game will be televised by FSN.