On the Mark: Hogs nip Aggies with buzzer-beater by Tramon Mark

Arkansas guard Tramon Mark celebrates following a shot against Texas A&M on Jan. 16, 2024 in Fayetteville. (Richey Miller/CSM via AP)

In an old-fashioned basketball duel, Arkansas Razorback Tramon Mark had one last shot in his arsenal, and the senior transfer made it count.

Mark drove hard down the left side of the lane, pulled up and lofted in the prettiest floater this side of Scotty Thurman. The ball glided over the outstretched hand of Texas A&M’s Jace Carter with 1.1 second on the clock, and the Hogs nipped a determined Aggie squad, 78-77, Tuesday in Walton Arena.

Mark scored a career high 35 points by hitting 8 of 15 field goals and 17 of 22 free-throws.

“Oh, that was a pretty win,” Arkansas coach Eric Musselman said when asked about the grueling victory by an SEC Network commentator. “Call it whatever you want. It was a phenomenal win for our team that has been struggling.”

The victory gave the Razorbacks (10-7, 1-3) their first victory in SEC play this season in dramatic fashion. Buzz Williams’ Aggies fell to 10-7 and 1-3 in league play.

The Hogs had lost their first three SEC games by a total of 64 points, which is the worst three-game stretch for the Razorbacks in school history.

“We finally found our grit, and we needed every bit of it tonight,” Musselman said.

It took all the Hogs could muster to squeak out the victory after leading the Aggies by as many as 20 points in the first half, and by double digits through much of the second half.

Next up for the Razorbacks

Opponent: South Carolina
When: 12 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 20
Where: Fayetteville, Ark.
TV: SEC Network

Next 5 games

Jan. 24 – at Ole Miss, 8 p.m. (ESPN2/U)
Jan. 27 – Kentucky, 5 p.m. (ESPN)
Jan. 31 – at Missouri, 7:30 p.m. (SEC Network)
Feb. 3 – at LSU, 11 a.m. (ESPN/2)
Feb. – Georgia, 5 p.m. (SEC Network)

Thanks to the stellar play by Mark, the Razorbacks outdueled the Aggies despite a 41-point outburst by preseason league MVP Wade Taylor IV.

With 7.6 seconds left in the game, Taylor canned a 3-pointer over the outstretched arms of Jeremiah Davenport and Landon Blocker to give the Aggies their first lead in the ballgame, 77-76, but Mark made sure the Razorbacks would not be denied.

“[Mark] hit a big, big shot there at the end that we really needed,” Musselman said.

Mark, who also had 5 rebounds, was clutch all night for the Razorbacks, who put the ball in his hand and let him go to work.

El Ellis came off the bench to have one of his best nights of the season with 15 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 assists. He was a key ball-handler late in the game after Devo Davis was tossed for a flagrant foul with 4:41 to play.

Video showed Davis kicking Anderss Garcia in the groin on a layup attempt with the Hogs leading, 70-60. It’s the second game in a row in which Davis has been disqualified.

From there it was a battle between Mark and Taylor for which guard would lead their team to victory with neither backing down.

While Taylor scored more points, he took 32 shots to score 41 points. Mark, who made 8 of 15 field goals, got the final say with his tear-drop jumper that iced the victory.

Neither team shot well. The Hogs managed 39%, while the Aggies shot 32%. A&M stayed in the game by pounding the boards, out-rebounding the Hogs 47-35 and outscoring Arkansas 25-9 on second-chance points.

The Aggies had just two turnovers, while the Hogs had eight. Arkansas blocked 9 shots to the Aggies’ 3, while A&M had five steals to Arkansas’ 1. Arkansas had 10 assists, while the Aggies had 5.

Brazile and Davenport each scored 8 points for the Hogs in the first half with Davis adding 7.

The Hogs opened to a quick 6-0 lead and did not look back until they were ahead 30-10 with 7:59 left in the first half, thanks to Davenport’s second 3-pointer.

The gritty Aggies began to find their way to some easy inside baskets by pounding the board late in the first half to slice the Hogs lead to a dozen, but the officials reviewed the tape and whistled a foul on A&M with :04 on the clock to send Brazile to the free-throw line. The sophomore swished both to give the Razorbacks a 46-32 lead at the half.

Mark scored 16 first-half points on drives, short jumpers, and collecting on 7-of-8 shots from the free-throw line. Davenport scored 8 first-half points, including two 3-pointers, and Ellis added 7, both off the bench.

The Aggies trimmed Arkansas’ lead to 12 at the half, and chipped away at the Razorback lead throughout the second half.

After Davis was kicked out of the game in the second half, the Aggies made up 11 points to take the lead on Taylor’s three pointer, but Mark’s clutch drive and basket secured the much needed victory for a Razorback team that has been struggling.

The Razorbacks are back in action at noon Saturday in Walton Arena against the South Carolina Gamecocks (14-3, 2-2 SEC), which lost 74-69 to Georgia on Tuesday. The game will be televised by the SEC Network.