Behind three players in double figures, including a career-high 19 points off the bench from sophomore Anthlon Bell, the Arkansas men’s basketball team picked up its fifth win in the last six games with a 73-69 victory at Mississippi State on Saturday afternoon at Humphrey Coliseum.
The Razorbacks never trailed over the final 32:19 of the game and led by as many as 15 in the second half en route to snapping a 12-game losing streak at Humphrey Coliseum. With four regular season games remaining, Arkansas (18-9) is part of a six-way tie for fifth place in the SEC at 7-7 that could become a seven-way tie for fourth place depending on the outcome of Missouri at Alabama.
Needing a hot start to pick up its second road win in the last three trips – loss was a one-point defeat at Missouri – Arkansas came out on fire, hitting five of its first six from the field, including four from three-point range to take a 14-8 lead before the first media timeout.
Mississippi State took the lead back for a 21-second span and Arkansas held a slim 23-21 edge with 9:45 left in the first half before Bell burst onto the scene with 10 straight points for the Razorbacks to push the lead to 35-24. Bell’s 10 points came over a span of 1:59, as he had 12 points by the under-eight media timeout after going the first 13 SEC games without reaching double figures.
The Bulldogs cut the Arkansas advantage to one, 39-38, early in the second half but could never take the lead as a 13-3 run midway through the period gave the visitors a commanding 70-56 lead. Fittingly, Bell had seven of the points during the run, but it was highlighted by a steal and dunk in transition by 6-foot-10 freshman Moses Kingsley in front of a large group of family and friends.
Arkansas’ lead dwindled down to five, 73-68, with 2:28 remaining, but it was able to limit the Bulldogs to just three possessions the rest of the way due a big offensive rebound by senior Coty Clarke with 1:32 left to secure the win.
Though Bell’s team-high 19 points off the bench were a huge boost, Clarke put together another solid all-around game with nine rebounds and a career-high seven assists, which is the most by a Razorback this season. Sophomore Michael Qualls extended his double figure scoring streak to an SEC career-long five games with 15 points, while freshman Bobby Portis continued his steady play in the middle with 13 points, seven boards, three blocks and two steals.
Four players reached double-digits for Mississippi State (13-14, 3-11), including leading scorer Craig Sword who was held to 10 points after a career-high 33 last time out at LSU.
Worthy Of A Hog Call (#WPS)
After going his last 12 games without reaching double figures, Bell put that streak to a rest by scoring 12 points by the under-eight media timeout in the first half that included 10 straight. After missing three of his first four shots, Bell hit a mid-range jumper and then got a layup before hitting back-to-back threes for 10 points in a span of 1:59. Bell’s 19 points came in 17 turnover-free minutes.
Key(s) To The Contest
Facing a Mississippi State club with a short bench, Arkansas needed to utilize its depth to pick up the critical road win. The Razorbacks did just that, coming away with 12 steals that turned into 19 points, but more importantly used fresh legs in the second half to stop the Bulldogs after they had trimmed the Arkansas lead to just 39-38. All 13 points during the 13-3 run midway through the second half came from the bench led by seven of Bell’s career-high 19 points.
@RazorbackMBB Quick Hits
Ø Ended a 12-game losing streak at Humphrey Coliseum, picking up its first win there since Feb. 12, 2000.
Ø Arkansas has five wins over a six-game span in the month of February for the second straight year.
Ø Arkansas improved to 16-2 when leading at the half.
Ø The Arkansas bench out-scored the opposition for the 22nd time with a 34-26 edge.
Ø Bell hasn’t led the team in scoring since the season opener vs. SIU-Edwardsville.
Ø Arkansas is 8-2 all-time when Bell reaches double figures.
Ø Bell’s 12 first half points were the third time he’s reached double figures in a half.
Ø Clarke has led Arkansas in rebound three straight games and seven times in SEC action.
Ø Clarke’s seven assists are the most by a Razorback this season and the 11th time he’s led the way.
Ø Clarke now leads the team with 67 assists and has 102 for his two-year career.
Ø Qualls now leads the team with 20 double figure games.
Ø Qualls has 17 threes over his last seven games after two over the previous seven.
Ø Freshman Bobby Portis scored double figures for the 20th time this season with 13 points.
Ø Portis blocked three or more shots for the third time in the last six games and brought his season total to 43.
Ø Senior Mardracus Wade picked up his 150th career steal, good for third among active players in the SEC.
Ø Clarke equaled his career-high with six assists …
Coach Anderson Postgame Sound
“Our guys have been through enough close games at home and on the road now so they don’t panic. Give credit to Rick Ray and his team because he has them playing very hard and they refused to go away when we had created some separation. I thought tonight we were able to use our strength which is our depth. We had some guys step up and every game it can be someone different. That’s how I know we’re starting to play Hog basketball.”
Ø Arkansas held a 19-9 edge in points off turnovers and has been out-scored in that category just three times.
Ø Fueled by 10 second half turnovers by MSU, Arkansas has won the turnover battle in 30 of the last 31 games.
Ø Arkansas’ 25 steals the last two games are the most over a two-game span in SEC play since 2012.
Ø Arkansas is 7-2 when coming away with double-digit steals.
Ø Eight of 10 players who saw the floor contributed to the 12 steals.
Ø Led by 12 assists on its first 16 made field goals, the Razorbacks’ 18 helpers were their second-most in SEC play.