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.
SEC Men's Basketball:
Yes, they did it again: Rebels win at Walton
Mississippi’s Reginald Buckner blocks a shot by Arkansas’ BJ Young in the first half Tuesday in Fayetteville. Buckner had three of the Rebels’ seven blocks in a 77-75 victory.
LITTLE ROCK Ole Miss ruined another Arkansas Senior Night.
The Rebels rallied from a 15-point deficit in the second half to beat the Razorbacks 77-75 on Tuesday night before an announced crowd of 10,175 at Walton Arena.
It was Ole Miss’ fourth consecutive victory at Walton Arena, including three on Senior Night.
“It definitely cuts pretty deep,” Razorbacks senior forward Michael Sanchez said of being 0-4 at home against Ole Miss during his career. “Not really a whole lot we can say.
“We just didn’t get it done. They were just better tonight.”
Ole Miss senior forward Terrance Henry made it his night, scoring a team-high 19 points. He capped the performance with a driving basket as he was fouled by Brandon Mitchell and hit the free throw to complete the three-point play that put the Rebels ahead 77-75 with 8.2 seconds left.
Freshman guard BJ Young, who led Arkansas with 19 points, missed a driving layup attempt at the buzzer that would have sent the game into overtime.
“Give them credit, they made the plays,” Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said of the Rebels. “A senior made the play, and on the other end we had a freshman trying to make a play, and BJ made some big plays in that game.
“We wanted him with the ball ... and he did a good job maneuvering. It just didn’t fall.”
Young, who wasn’t among the players made available for postgame interviews, fell to the floor after his miss on the final play and was in tears as Anderson tried to console him.
“That tells you he plays with his heart,” Anderson said. “He wanted to win this game not only for our season, but also for those seniors.”
Arkansas sophomore guard Mardracus Wade said Anderson drew up a pickand-pop out play for Young and Wade during a timeout, anticipating Ole Miss would be in a man-to-man defense and wouldn’t switch off of a screen. But the Rebels instead came out in a 2-2-1 zone.
“It threw us off a little bit,” Wade said. “So BJ just wanted to take it into his hands, which all good players want the ball in their hands at the last second.
“We thought he got fouled. But, hey, it is what it is.”
Young, who hit two free throws to put Arkansas ahead 75-74 with 13.3 seconds left, came into the game averaging 15.2 points per game to rank sixth in the SEC and tops in the conference among freshmen.
“BJ Young is an incredible player,” Ole Miss Coach Andy Kennedy said. “He’s one of the marquee freshmen in this country. There’s a lot of publicity — and rightfully so — that goes to that outstanding freshman class at Kentucky, but I think BJ Young is right there.
“He’s got the ability to knife through traffic, just like he did on the final play. We double him off the ball screen, just trying to get the ball out of his hands. He splits it. He gets all the way to the rim.”
Arkansas (18-12, 6-9 SEC) appeared to be in control after going on an 18-3 run — highlighted by Wade’s four three-pointers — to take a 55-40 lead with 13:34 left.
“I thought they were really going to roll over, but that wasn’t the case,” Wade said. “They got some key buckets, and we had some key turnovers. They capitalized off those and got hope.”
The Rebels (17-12, 7-8) outscored the Razorbacks 17-7 over the final 5:16, a span in which Arkansas had three turnovers and went 1 of 4 from the field.
“We’re in position, but now you’ve got to finish,” Anderson said. “And the way you finish it is, you’ve got to play defense, and you’ve got to continue to be in attack mode and make good decisions with the basketball.
“I thought we got careless with the basketball and enabled them to really steal some momentum, whether it be turnovers or offensive rebounds.”
Anderson said the loss was a painful one for the Razorbacks.
“It’s a hurt locker room in there, and why? Because they poured their heart and soul into that game, and Ole Miss just stole one,” he said. “They did a good job of hanging in there.”
Along with Henry, the Rebels also got big games from junior forwards Murphy Holloway (16 points, 16 rebounds) and Reginald Buckner (8 points, 15 rebounds and 3 blocks) and freshman guard Jarvis Summers (17 points).
“I’m just really proud that our guys continued to battle and battle and battle,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy said Henry “got his dobber down a little bit” after a turnover with 4:07 left and Arkansas leading 68-63.
“I challenged him at the under-four timeout to be the best player on the floor for the last three minutes and we’ll win the game,” Kennedy said. “That’s what he was.”
Wade scored 14 points, all in the second half. Razorbacks junior guard Julysses Nobles added 13 points.
“I thought throughout the game we fought extremely hard and made some great plays defensively and offensively,” Anderson said. “But when we needed it the most, we couldn’t make the plays.”
Ole Miss and Kentucky are the only teams to beat Arkansas four consecutive times at Walton Arena in its 19-year history, but the Rebels are the only team to do it four years in a row.
“I don’t really know,” Holloway said when asked to explain the Rebels’ Walton Arena success. “I guess since we got on the winning streak we were like, ‘We’ve won three, let’s win four.’ ”
Sports, Pages 19 on 02/29/2012