Tom Murphy is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of Louisiana Tech University, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and voter for the Heisman Trophy and AP Top 25 football poll.
Making itself at home
Arkansas wins first game on the road
Arkansas' Marshawn Powell blocks a shot by Auburn's Chris Denson during the second half of their NCAA college basketball game, Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013, in Auburn, Ala. Arkansas won 83-75. (AP Photo/Todd J. Van Emst)
AUBURN, Ala. The Arkansas Razorbacks found the missing ingredient to solve their road troubles Wednesday.
All it took was a return to Auburn Arena, the site of their past two victories outside of Arkansas.
Arkansas forced 16 turnovers and made nine threepointers, pulling away with three quick three-pointers in the second half, to take down Auburn 83-75 before an announced crowd of 5,783.
The Razorbacks (15-9, 6-5 SEC) won their first game out of the state since defeating the Tigers 77-71 here last season and improved to 2-14 on the road under Coach Mike Anderson.
“It was a new feeling, it was different,” said Arkansas guard BJ Young, who scored a game-high 25 points on 8-of-16 shooting. “I know we’ve got a long bus ride back to the airport and a long plane ride, so at least we get to go home happy.
“We always have to go home and have a meeting, and we always dread the meeting because we know we lost and we did stuff wrong. But now that we’ve won, we don’t have to go to that meeting and we get to play around and laugh and enjoy the bus ride and the plane ride back home.”
The Tigers (9-15, 3-8) have lost eight of their past nine games, a rough patch that began with Auburn’s 88-80 double overtime loss at Arkansas on Jan. 16.
Arkansas, with its third consecutive victory at Auburn, has won six in a row in the series and seven of the past eight.
“Our guys were excited about it,” Anderson said. “This is something they’ve been working towards all year long, but hopefully it’s just a start for them.”
Marshawn Powell went 7 of 11 from the field and scored 17 of his 20 points in the second half after getting into foul trouble in the first half.
The Razorbacks held a 21-6 lead on points off turnovers and shot 55.2 percent in the second half to overcome a 35-33 halftime deficit.
“It is very disappointing,”Auburn Coach Tony Barbee said. “We got down by 10, but we fought our tails off. … I was disappointed in my veteran players. We had 16 turnovers, and not one was against the press. That tells you all you need to know.”
Barbee, asked if he had an explanation for Arkansas’ 3-0 record against his Tigers in Auburn despite the Razorbacks’ road struggles elsewhere, simply replied, “No.”
Anderson and his players said the proper focus was in place from the plane flight to the pregame shoot-around.
“It was our level of focus and where our heads were,” Powell said.
With Auburn scrambling to get back in contention late in the game, the Razorbacks broke free for a series of layups, the last by Mardracus Wade after Young missed a pair of free throws, that iced the outcome. The Hogs also made 10 of 15 free throws in the last 4:54.
Arkansas scored the first seven points of the second half to build a 40-35 lead, but the Tigers were still hanging around at 50-47 when the Hogs heated up from the perimeter.
Young, Powell and Wadehit three-pointers on successive possessions as Arkansas grabbed a 59-47 lead. The last two three-pointers were on the same sequence as Auburn big man Rob Chubb picked up a foul for elbowing under the basket as Powell’s three was going through the net.
“That was a big, big, big turning point,” Powell said. “It just showed you the level of frustration. We were trying to keep them frustrated all night and not let [Chubb] dowhat he did at our house and it worked.”
The Tigers were never able to whittle the deficit to fewer than three points the rest of the way.
Chris Denson led Auburn with 18 points on 6-of-9 shooting. Tigers guard Frankie Sullivan, who had been shooting 30 percent since the earlier loss to the Razorbacks, did not start. Sullivan, who scored 26 points in Auburn’s loss at Arkansas, came off the bench and scored 11 points on 3-of-7 shooting.
“We did a great job of closing out on Frankie,” Anderson said. “I mean, he torched us at our place.”
The Razorbacks tipped away a large number of Auburn passes in the lane and turned them into transition points.
Powell’s aggressiveness again cost him playing time in the first half, just as it did in Saturday’s loss at Vanderbilt. Powell was whistled for pushing for position on an offensive rebound on the Hogs’ first possession, then he charged into an Auburn player while trying to retrieve his own miss at the 9:46 mark and sat for the rest of the half after picking up his second foul.
Sports, Pages 19 on 02/14/2013