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.
UA can’t land knockout blow
LSU's Anthony Hickey (1) splits Arkansas defenders B.J. Young (11) and Marshawn Powell (33) for a shot during an NCAA basketball game, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013, in Baton Rouge, La. LSU won 65-60. (AP Photo/The Advocate, Heather McClelland)
BATON ROUGE Arkansas shaved 20 points off LSU’s lead with a furious second-half rally Wednesday night.
The trouble for the Razorbacks was that they fell behind the Tigers by 22 points.
LSU managed to keep the lead in the second half and hold off Arkansas to win 65-60 before an announced crowd of 7,891 at Maravich Assembly Center.
“We dug ourselves a crazy hole,” said Razorbacks junior forward Marshawn Powell. “It seems like that’s what we always do on the road.
“We showed we have fight in us, but fight ain’t getting it done.”
The Razorbacks, who trailed 45-23 in the first half, pulled within 62-60 with 1:49left when freshman forward Michael Qualls dunked after Powell made a steal.
“We thought, ‘We can win this,’ ” said Powell, who led Arkansas with 17 points. “We just had to make a couple more stops and make some plays on the offensive end.”
But the Razorbacks (17-10, 8-7 SEC) couldn’t make the plays on offense or defense to finish the comeback.
“We didn’t execute going down the stretch,” Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said. “We’re better than the way we played tonight.”
LSU forward Johnny O’Bryant hit 1 of 2 free throws at the 1:01 mark to give the Tigers a 63-60 lead
Arkansas sophomore guard BJ Young then missed a three-point attempt and Tigers guard Charles Carmouche hit 1 of 2 free throws to make it 64-60 with 34.2 seconds left.
Young drove the lane but was called for a charging foul with 30 seconds left when he made contact with Anthony Hickey.
“I didn’t think it was a charge,” Anderson said.
Powell made a steal, but the Razorbacks missed three shots - an inside look by Powell and three-point attempts by junior guard Kikko Haydar and Young. O’Bryant then hit 1 of 2 free throws with two seconds left for the final margin.
“We just had to keep fighting,” said Carmouche, a senior transfer from Memphis who led LSU with a careerhigh 26 points. “Arkansas played hard for 40 minutes.They just kept their foot on the gas and kept coming after us.”
LSU had 12 of its 18 turnovers in the second half, when the Tigers shot 29.4 percent from the field (5 of 17) after shooting 48.6 percent (17 of 35) in the first half.
“Just disappointing,” Anderson said of the overall game. “I thought our performance would be a lot better, especially in the first half.”
The Tigers scored 19 points off 19 Arkansas turnovers, matching what the Razorbacks scored off 18 turnovers by the Tigers.
“I think it was more what we were doing as opposed to what LSU was doing,” Anderson said. “But they did a good job of holding us off.”
LSU (17-9, 8-7) took the lead for good by outscoring the Razorbacks 18-3 over a 4:51 span, including 11 points by Carmouche on 3 threepointers and a short bank shot, to move ahead 23-8 with 11:01 left in the half.
“That’s inexcusable,” Anderson said. “That has to do with the mental preparation and the effort, and I’ll take the blame for that. I thought I had them more ready than what took place.”
Carmouche hit 9 of 11 shots - including 3 of 5 three-pointers - and 5 of 7 free throws. He came into the game averaging 9.4 points and his previous season high had been 21 points againstMississippi State.
“He was just playing freely,” said Arkansas junior guard Mardracus Wade, who scored 15 points. “We couldn’t get a hold on him, and he just kind of took off from there.”
LSU Coach Johnny Jones also praised the defensive effort by Carmouche against Young, who shot 2 of 11 from the field and finished with 4 points and 6 turnovers.
“I thought he did an excellent job containing Young, who’s a tremendous player,” Jones said.
Hickey, the Tigers’ sophomore point guard, had 10 points and 5 assists with 3 turnovers in 39 minutes.
“Even though Hickey didn’t score a lot, we let him get in the lane and kick out to his guys for open looks,” Wade said. “He’s the head, and we’ve got to cut the head off, and we didn’t do a good job of that.”
Haydar scored eight points for the Razorbacks. Qualls, who started in place of Young, had 7 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocked shots.
O’Bryant, who came into the game averaging 14.0 points and 8.7 rebounds, was limited to 21 minutes because of foul trouble and finished with 5 points and 8 rebounds.
“They cut into the lead after Johnny got in foul trouble, but I have to credit our guys,” Jones said. “I thought they did an excellent job of playingwell down the stretch, getting stops, and making free throws to at least get out of here secure the win at the end.”
Wade said he could feel the momentum swinging as the Razorbacks continued to cut into LSU’s lead.
“I thought the pressure was going to get to them,” Wade said. “At that point, we had nothing to lose. We’re on the road, and sometimes the pressure can get to the home team. They feel like they’re supposed to win. I felt some panic started setting in.
“We felt like we had them, but we made some bad decisions at the end.”
Arkansas dropped to 1-10 in out-of-state games this season. The Razorbacks’ lone victory away from home came when they beat Auburn 83-75 two weeks ago.
“It’s tough,” Wade said. “You work so hard all year long and you figure you can get at least a couple road wins. When you don’t win where you feel like you’ve got a chance, it puts a lot on you. But Coach said we need to have a short-term memory after a game like this and just move on get ready for practice and the next game.”
Sports, Pages 17 on 02/28/2013