Bob Holt is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and voter for the Heisman Trophy, Biletnikoff Award and AP Top 25 basketball poll. Holt was awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year in 2000 and 2015.
Powell’s 33 points propel Hogs
NWA Media/ANTHONY REYES -- Arkansas junior forward Marshawn Powell (33) drives around Oklahoma junior forward Amath M'Baye (22) in the first half Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012 at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE Oklahoma guard Steven Pledger and Arkansas forward Marshawn Powell grew up in Virginia playing AAU basketball together, so there was a part of Pledger happy to see his old friend perform so well Tuesday night after missing all but two games last season because of a knee injury.
“But I wish it was against somebody else,” Pledger said.
Powell, a redshirt junior, scored a career-high 33 points and had 6 rebounds and equaled his career-high with 5 assists to lead the Razorbacks to an 81-78 victory over Oklahoma before an announced crowd of 9,501 in Walton Arena.
“Marshawn was in a zone,” Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said. “He was in rhythm, and our guys did a good job of getting the ball to him at the right place at the right time. “
Powell capped off his game by deflecting an inbound pass intended for Romero Osby near the half-court line on Oklahoma’s final possession with 2.4 seconds to prevent the Sooners from getting off a three-pointer that could have sent the game into overtime. Tyler Neal grabbed the loose ball and threw up a heave from 60 feet that fell short of the basket.
“I just had to give it everything I had left in me in order to stop them, especially if the ball came my way,” Powell said. “Luckily, I got to it because he [Osby] beat me initially off his first step. I had to gain ground to get back to it.”
Osby, a senior forward who led the Sooners (6-2) with 22 points, said the play was designed for him to get the ball and pass it to Pledger for a final shot.
Pledger’s three-pointer with 22 seconds left put the Sooners ahead 78-77 — the first lead of the second half after trailing by 11 points.
Sophomore guard BJ Young hit a driving basket to put the Razorbacks (4-3) ahead 79-78 with 15 seconds left.
“My teammates put me in a good position to score, and it was just time for a big-time player to make a big-time play,” Young said. “Luckily, I made that play and we got the W.”
Young, who came into the game averaging 21.4 points per game, was held to a season-low 10 on 4-of-12 shooting, but wasn’t going to be denied with the game on the line.
“Young’s so quick off the dribble and gets to the paint, gets to the rim,” Oklahoma Coach Lon Kruger said. “I thought our guys had pretty good awareness of him, but he’s still a good player and tough to guard.”
Osby missed an 18-foot jump shot with five seconds left — “I thought it was going in when it left my hand,” he said — and Powell got the rebound. Powell was fouled by Cameron Clark and hit two free throws for an 81-78 lead before making the gameclinching defensive play.
“Marshawn made plays for us,” Anderson said. “That’s a sign he’s getting back into form. He will really continue to impact his team because our guys follow his lead.”
Powell hit 11 of 17 shots, including 4 of 6 three-pointers. He also hit 7 of 8 free throws.
“Powell was fantastic,” Kruger said. “He’s such a good player in a lot of different ways.”
The Razorbacks shot 52.6 percent from the field (30 of 57) and hit a season-high 9 three-pointers on 22 attempts.
“Shooting is contagious,” Anderson said. “Marshawn started off hitting some shots, and I think it fed throughout our team.”
Junior guard Mardracus Wade scored 10 points for the Razorbacks and junior forward Coty Clarke and sophomore guard Ky Madden each added eight points. Sophomore Hunter Mickelson had 6 points, 5 rebounds and 2 blocked shots. Young had a career-high eight assists. “I just had a different feel for the game,” Young said. “I surveyed the defense and it was all packed in and other guys were hot tonight so I had to get the ball in their hands.”
Powell was asked if he’s finally 100 percent recovered from surgery to repair torn ligaments in his right knee.
“No — 95,” Powell said. “Still.”
Kruger managed a smile when he heard that.
“Ninety-five was pretty good tonight,” Kruger said. “He’s got a great skills, an arsenal of abilities.”
Sports, Pages 24 on 12/05/2012