SEC MEN:

Wisconsin wears down Arkansas

By: PAUL DELOS SANTOS SPECIAL TO THE DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE
Published: Sunday, November 25, 2012
Arkansas' Coty Clarke (4) looks to make a shot with Wisconsin's Ryan Evans (5) defending during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game at the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational tournament on Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012, in Las Vegas. Wisconsin won 77-70. (AP Photo/David Becker)
Photo by The Associated Press
Arkansas' Coty Clarke (4) looks to make a shot with Wisconsin's Ryan Evans (5) defending during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game at the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational tournament on Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012, in Las Vegas. Wisconsin won 77-70. (AP Photo/David Becker)

— The Arkansas men’s basketball team is leaving Las Vegas with two losses, but the Razorbacks also managed to take something positive back with them.

Wisconsin took advantage of its size and experience in the second half Saturday to erase an 11-point deficit on its way to a 77-70 victory over Arkansas at the Las Vegas Invitational at The Orleans Arena.

It was the Razorbacks’ second loss in the tournament, following an 83-68 loss to Arizona State on Friday night, but Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson was more pleased with team’s effort Saturday.

“We got better from one day to the next,” Anderson said. “You don’t want to learn losing, rather do it winning, but we played against an excellent Wisconsin team.”

Sam Dekker scored 19 points to lead Wisconsin past Arkansas in the first meeting between the schools. Ryan Evans had 12 points and 7 rebounds for Wisconsin (4-2), while Jared Berggren added 10 points, 9 rebounds and 5 blocks as the Badgers used a 16-5 run to open the second the half.

Wisconsin outscored the Razorbacks 48-30 in the second half.

“We had to break that streak of confidence [Arkansas] had going,” Wisconsin Coach Bo Ryan said. “The halftime helped. Our defense got a lot better, as well as our decisions with the ball. We didn’t get good spacing. We needed to do a better job with our deception.”

Sophomore guard BJ Young scored 18 points to lead the Razorbacks.

“These are, like Coach said, just tests,” Arkansas junior Mardracus Wade said. “Today we didn’t pass once again. It’s a bad thing, but a good thing. It’s a learning tool for us.”

Arkansas showed flashes of brilliance against the larger, more experienced Badgers in the first 20 minutes.

The Razorbacks (3-2) were unselfish on offense and aggressive on the defensive end as they flustered the Badgers early. Arkansas grabbed 4 steals, dished out 7 assists and shot 51.9 percent from the floor.

Arkansas used a 17-8 run over an eight-minute span to build a 40-29 lead going into halftime, despite being outrebounded 25-13.

“They were turning the ball over,” said Wade, who finished with 13 points. “We got good looks. We were cutting to the basket. Our floor spacing was really good. Guys were getting easy buckets.”

But like Friday night’s game against Arizona State, the Razorbacks struggled to maintain their early momentum.

Wisconsin outscored Arkansas 24-11 to start the second half, going up 53-51 on Mike Bruesewitz’s three-pointer, Wisconsin’s first lead since the opening two minutes.

The game was close the rest of the way with the Badgers taking a six-point lead on Bruesewitz’s three-pointer with three minutes to play.

“They came out a little more patient running their offense and got to their shooters,” Wade said.

“They executed better. We didn’t pressure like we did in the first half. We kind of let up.”

Wisconsin built a ninepoint lead, but things got interesting when Ryan was called for a technical foul after a foul call.

The Razorbacks made four consecutive free throws to cut the lead to five, but the Badgers countered with four free throws in the final 30 seconds.

Information for this article was contributed by The Associated Press.

SEC WOMEN

ARKANSAS 83, HAWAII 68

HONOLULU — A seat on the bench seemed to put a spark in Sarah Watkins. The senior center came off the bench Saturday and tied her career high with 25 points to lead the Arkansas women’s basketball team to a victory over Hawaii at the Waikiki Beach Resort Classic in Honolulu.

Watkins has battled foul trouble in nearly every game this season, which led Coach Tom Collen to start sophomore Jhasmin Bowen in her place. Watkins responded with 25 points on 11-of-16 shooting, taking her over 1,000 career points.

Watkins has 1,018 points in 102 games. She began the season with 962 points and has scored 54 points over the first five games of the season.

She is the 27th player in program history to score at least 1,000 career points. Keira Peak had 16 points for Arkansas (3-1), while Calli Berna had 12 points and 7 rebounds, and Melissa Wolff finished with 11 points. Kamilah Martin led Hawaii (2-4) with 20 points.

Arkansas faces Oregon at 4 p.m. Central today to close out the tournament.

Sports, Pages 31 on 11/25/2012

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