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 drops 6th in row to Ole Miss
Mississippi's Marshall Henderson (22) drives against Arkansas' Fred Gulley (12) during an NCAA college basketball game in Oxford, Miss. on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013. (AP Photo/Oxford Eagle, Bruce Newman)
OXFORD, Miss. When Arkansas joined the SEC, the Razorbacks went 9-1 in their first 10 basketball games against Ole Miss.
Now the Rebels have returned the favor.
Ole Miss beat Arkansas 76-64 Saturday at Tad Smith Coliseum before an announced crowd of 9,044 to give the Rebels a 9-1 advantage in their past 10 games against the Razorbacks, including six consecutive victories.
“It’ll change,” Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said. “It’ll change.”
Anderson, an Arkansas assistant coach when the Razorbacks used to dominate Ole Miss, noted the Rebels are a team loaded with experienced players with Andy Kennedy in his seventh season as their coach.
The Rebels (15-2, 4-0 SEC) were led Saturday by fourthyear junior guard Marshall Henderson (16 points), fifthyear seniors Murphy Holloway (15 points, 11 rebounds) and Nick Williams (14 points), senior Reginald Buckner (10 points, 10 rebounds) and sophomore point guard Jarvis Summers (14 points, 7 assists), who started as a freshman.
“Andy’s got the right kids, and they’re doing the right things,” Anderson said. “We’ll get to that point. More importantly, I’m thinking about what’s taking place with our team right now. We’re developing, we’re learning and we’re getting better.”
Kennedy didn’t want to gloat about the Rebels’ run of success against the Razorbacks.
“We’ve been fortunate,” Kennedy said. “Arkansas has got great tradition, they’ve had a lot of great teams, a lot of great players. Mike’s got a good group. We’ve just been better that day.”
The Rebels are tied with Florida for the SEC lead and look ready to gain their first NCAA Tournament bid since 2002.
“We’ve waited so long just to be relevant,” Holloway said. “But we still have to be hungry.”
The Rebels appeared to be in control of Saturday’s game when they pushed their lead to 41-28 on Williams’ threepoint basket with 17:44 left. But Arkansas (11-6, 2-2) outscored Ole Miss 27-14 over a 7:16 span, including eight points by junior forward Marshawn Powell, and tied the game 52-52 on junior guard Ricky Scott’s layup with 10:07 left.
The Rebels missed two shots on their next possession, giving Arkansas a chance to take the lead, but junior guard Mardracus Wade missed a three-point attempt.
Ole Miss then came away with three points on five of its next six possessions — including a pair of threepointers each by Henderson and Williams and three-point play by Summers — to move ahead 57-54 with 6:34 left.
“Arkansas had made their run to come back and tie it,” Kennedy said. “It was our turn again.”
The Rebels hit 6 of 12 three-pointers in the second half after being 0 of 8 in the first half.
“I knew eventually we’d make some shots,” Williams said.
Ole Miss outscored Arkansas 15-2 to break away from the 52-52 tie as the Razorbacks were 1 of 8 from the field — Scott hit a jump shot — with a turnover on seven consecutive possessions.
“I just feel like we’ve got to make better decisions when we get ourselves into that position,” said Powell, who led the Razorbacks with 16 points.
Arkansas sophomore forward Hunter Mickelson (10 points, 8 rebounds, 3 blocked shots) said it was frustrating to rally and tie the score, then not be able to finish strong.
“It takes a lot of effort to come back like that, especially against a good team like Ole Miss,” Mickelson said. “We were in it, and we were going back and forth, and then they pulled away.
“I think we just kind of ran out runs. We had that big one, and then we couldn’t get back on another one. Everybody played hard. If we could’ve have gotten on one more run, I think it could have been different.”
The Rebels have won their first four SEC games for the first time since the 1936-1937 season, but Kennedy downplayed the significance.
“That actually has nothing to do with this group,” Kennedy said. “Our kids don’t think about any of that stuff. It’s just about us getting better and getting to the next game. My hope is that the guys will continue to embrace the grind.”
The Razorbacks were encouraged by how they played at Ole Miss compared to their first SEC road game, a 69-51 loss at Texas A&M in which the Aggies led by as many as 23 points.
“We played way better than we did at A&M,” Powell said. “We actually showed that we can play on the road, and play with physicalness. I feel like just give us some time and we’ll be in a position to play for something.”
Sports, Pages 23 on 01/20/2013