The Arkansas Razorbacks came into their pivotal game against the Georgia Bulldogs looking to win their 3rd straight game in SEC play. They achieved their goal, but not without a huge scare from the road team from Athens, Geogia.
The Razorbacks (17-9, 8-5 SEC) held on to win in dramatic fashion by a score of 62-60.
Coach Mike Anderson had his Hogs ready to go as they played suffocating defense in the 1st half against Georgia. They held the Bulldogs (12-14, 6-7 SEC) to 18 first half points on 20% shooting from the field.
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Their switching man-to-man defense has played a big part in their resurgence in recent weeks. It was again the case tonight as they used it to hold the Bulldogs to 18 first half points on 20% shooting from the field. This defense also played a huge role in holding Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, the Bulldogs leading scorer, scoreless in the first half.
The Hogs defense, especially at Bud Walton Arena, can be very intimidating and it seemed to rattle the Bulldogs early on.
“I don’t think our team played with much courage in the first half,” said Bulldogs coach Mark Fox.
Hogs forward Marshawn Powell was once again plagued by foul trouble which limited his minutes throughout the ballgame. Playing without their best player, the Hogs got a huge boost from an unexpected source. Guard Anthlon Bell came off the bench to hit three big baskets from beyond the arc in the first half.
Bell continued his hot shooting in the 2nd half by making two more huge 3-point baskets and another long jumper from inside the arc to put the Hogs up 41-30. He finished the game leading both teams in scoring with 17 points. He also added 5 3-point field goals.
The Bulldogs responded to Bell’s last basket with a huge rally by going on an 11-0 run to tie the game at 41.
Late in the 2nd half, Caldwell-Pope finally broke loose and gave the Bulldogs their first lead of the game with a score of 56-53 on a 3-point basket. Powell followed on the next position with a 3-point field goal to tie it again at 56.
With the game tied at 60, guard BJ Young worked his magic as he did on Saturday against the Missouri Tigers. Again, he was able to get into the lane and make a tough driving lay-up with 5 seconds remaining in the ballgame. It turned out to be the game winner as the Bulldogs missed their final shot at the buzzer.
“He can make plays, " Coach Mike Anderson said after the game. "Sometimes that’s good, sometimes that’s bad."
As was the case against Missouri, he made the right plays when they needed to be made and helped the Hogs keep their NCAA Tournament hopes alive in a hard-fought win.