Matt Jones has been the online sports editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette since 2010. He is also a feature writer for Hawgs Illustrated magazine and is currently pursuing a Masters degree in journalism.
Arkansas upsets No. 2 Florida
Arkansas' BJ Young (11) celebrates with fans after their 80-69 win over No. 2 Florida in an NCAA college basketball game in Fayetteville, Ark., Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013. (AP Photo/Gareth Patterson)
FAYETTEVILLE Not even the SEC's best could touch Arkansas at home on Tuesday.
The Razorbacks blitzed No. 2 Florida with a hot-shooting first half and beat the Gators 80-69 at Bud Walton Arena. Florida lost its first game in league play after winning its previous eight SEC games by an average 25.3 points.
Arkansas (14-8, 5-4 SEC) won a game against its highest-ranked opponent since beating No. 2 Auburn in 1999.
The Razorbacks started the game red-hot, hitting 15 of their first 20 field goal attempts. Arkansas led by as many as 23 points in the first half and 43-26 at halftime.
Florida pulled within 14 early in the second half, but a 16-3 Arkansas run gave the Razorbacks a 27-point cushion on Coty Clarke's alley-oop slam with 9:30 remaining. The Gators never got to within double-digits after the intermission.
Arkansas, the league's worst defensive rebounding team entering the game, out-rebounded Florida - ranked No. 8 nationally in rebounding margin - and hit 49 percent of its shots, including eight 3-point attempts.
BJ Young led Arkansas with 13 points, while Michael Qualls and Marshawn Powell each added 11. Mike Rosario had a game-high 15 points for Florida.
The Gators (18-3, 8-1) fell to 0-3 at Bud Walton Arena while ranked in the top 10.
Florida had snapped a 17-game win streak for the Razorbacks at the venue with a 30-point win last season, but Arkansas won its 11th straight game at its on-campus home with a similar runaway win this year. The Razorbacks never trailed the Gators, who had last lost Dec. 22 to Kansas State.
Arkansas will play at Vanderbilt on Saturday, looking for its first road win this season. The Razorbacks beat the Commodores 56-33 last month in Fayetteville.