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.
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Arkansas falls flat at Florida
Florida's Erik Murphy (33) tries to block Arkansas guard Michael Qualls (24) as he struggles under the basket during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Gainesville, Fla., Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013. (AP Photo/Phil Sandlin)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. There was no game-winning basket for BJ Young on Saturday night against No. 5 Florida.
There weren’t baskets of any kind for Arkansas’ leading scorer as the Gators pulled away in the second half to beat the Razorbacks 71-54 in the O’Connell Center before a sellout crowd of 12,609.
It was Arkansas’ ninth consecutive loss at Florida since winning there in 1995.
Young, a sophomore guard averaging 16.2 points a game, had hit game-winning driving baskets in the Razorbacks’ last two games against Missouri and Georgia, but all three of his points Saturday night came on free throws. He finished 0 of 8 from the field, including missing a layup on a breakaway in the second half, while playing 31 minutes.
It’s the first time in Young’s 58-game career for the Razorbacks that he hasn’t made a basket. His previous low was going 1 of 5 from the field at LSU last season.
Florida senior guard Scottie Wilbekin guarded Young most of the game but had plenty of defensive help from his teammates.
“I thought Scottie did a good job cutting off angles,” Gators Coach Billy Donovan said. “When [Young] did get around us, we were able to provide a little bit of help, but he is very, very physical and a tough, determined guy when the ball is in his hand.”
The tone was set for Young when he missed a three-pointer on Arkansas’ first possession and then had a turnover. He finished with two assists and three turnovers.
“They paid attention to BJ,” Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said. “They did a good job of limiting him in transition and keeping him from getting to the basket. Any time he went into the lane, they had three or four people in there.”
Arkansas junior forward Marshawn Powell scored seven of the Razorbacks’ first eight points, but he picked up his second foul with 10:45 left in the first half and had to go to the bench. He also had two fouls in the second half and didn’t score again after his early success, missing his last five shots and having four turnovers in 20 minutes.
“I’m sure there’s frustration on his part,” Anderson said.“He didn’t get a chance to go out and play, but you’ve got to learn how to play as the game is being called.”
Despite Young’s shooting struggles and Powell’s foul problems, Florida led just 32-28 at halftime.
“We felt confident,” said junior forward Coty Clarke, who led the Razorbacks with 18 points, 7 rebounds and 3 blocked shots. “Coach always says you want to hang around on the road, and then the pressure’s on the other team because they’re supposed to blow you out according to everybody else.
“Going into the second half, we felt we could chip away at the lead, but tonight Florida was just the better team.”
The Gators outscored Arkansas 25-9 to open the second half - including 11 points from offensive rebounds - to push their lead to 57-37 with 10:31 left.
“Florida came out and really started attacking the offensive glass,” Anderson said. “Then we couldn’t make shots. You can real far behind against those guys because they’re pretty potent.”
The Razorbacks were 3 of 13 from the field with three turnovers the first nine minutes of the second half.
“When you give up a lot of offensive rebounds and stick backs and then don’t execute on offense, that will put you in a real big hole,” Clarke said.
Senior guard Mike Rosario led Florida (22-4, 12-2 SEC) with 15 points. Junior center Patric Young had 14 points, hitting 7 of 10 shots, and 7 rebounds. Senior guard Kenny Boynton and senior forward Erik Murphy each scored 12 points.
The Gators avenged an 80-69 loss at Arkansas on Feb. 5, when the Razorbacks (17-10, 8-6) ended Florida’s 10-game winning streak.
“We wanted to let them know that were the better team,” Murphy said. “That first game at their place, they came out on fire and we weren’t ready. That’s not us.”
Anderson said he knew the Gators would play with plenty of energy.
“You could tell they were focused,” Anderson said. “They were amped up. Our guys were ready to play as well. We just came up short, but it wasn’t because of a lack of effort.”
Arkansas freshman guard Anthlon Bell scored 14 points in 21 minutes off the bench and hit 4 of 10 three-pointers. He had 17 points in 15 minutes against Georgia on Thursday night.
“You’re starting to see his emergence,” Anderson said. “That’s real positive.”
Clarke finished 8 of 8 from the field and played 26 minutes despite having three fouls in the first half.
“He was a warrior,” Anderson said. “He was fighting out there. I thought all our guys were fighting. We just couldn’t make shots, and when you don’t make shots, man, it puts so much pressure on your defense.”
Patric Young, who scored 9 points on 4-of-9 shooting in the Gators’ loss at Arkansas, said Florida approached the Razorbacks differently the second time around.
“We respected them more this time,” Young said. “We were a little bit complacent being undefeated [in the SEC], and we felt good about ourselves.
“Tonight we took on the challenge. We really wanted to get these guys back.”
Sports, Pages 25 on 02/24/2013