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.
Hogs hit another pothole
Mike Anderson is 1-13 on the road as Arkansas' head coach. The Razorbacks lost to South Carolina 75-54 on Saturday.
COLUMBIA, S.C. Somebody’s misery had to end.
South Carolina brought its home struggles in SEC play to an end Saturday, overcoming an early 12-point deficit and dropping Arkansas further into its road funk with a 75-54 victory before an announced crowd of 10,926 at Colonial Life Arena.
The Gamecocks (12-7, 2-4 SEC) had been winless in conference play at home under first-year Coach Frank Martin, and their listless start Saturday made it look like that streak would continue.
Arkansas (12-7, 4-2) fell to 0-3 in SEC road games after suffering its most lopsided loss of the season. The Razorbacks were out rebounded 42-26 and made just 2 of 16 three-pointers.
“It just seems like we’re a different team on the road than we are at home,” said Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson, who has a 1-10 SEC road record in his two seasons.
Arkansas led 15-3 before five minutes had elapsed, but the Razorbacks went scoreless over the next 6:13 as South Carolina clawed back and then took over the game.
“That’s kind of been the norm for our team, especially on the road,” Anderson said. “Congratulations to Frank and his guys. I thought they were a little tougher than we were today.
Arkansas forward Marshawn Powell, who had 22 points on 9-of-14 shooting and 13 rebounds, agreed the Razorbacks weren’t tough enough.
“We’ve got to play with heart,” Powell said. “If we don’t have heart, no matter what we do or no matter where we go, we’re just going to be homebodies.
“I’m trying. If I’m trying, everybody else on the team should be trying. It’s just heart, man, and you can’t teach that.”
Rickey Scott scored nine points, including eight in the first 4:21, while BJ Young and Coty Clarke had seven points each for Arkansas.
South Carolina continued its strong rebounding, grabbing 13 on the offensive end and 29 defensive. The Razorbacks managed 12 offensive rebounds and 14 on the defensive end.
“It’s a big part of who we are,” Martin said. “Pat Riley said a long time ago that rebounding equals rings. Field goal percentage defense and rebounding are the two stats I care for.”
South Carolina dominated both against the Razorbacks, who haven’t won a true road game since a 77-71 victory at Auburn on Feb. 25, 2012.
The Gamecocks limited Arkansas to 34.4 percent shooting while hitting 30 of 52 shots (57.7 percent).
Guard Brian Richardson came off the bench and made 8 of 13 shots, including 3 of 5 three-pointers, to tie a season high with 20 points. Point guard Bruce Ellington, who also plays for South Carolina’s football team, broke out of a shooting slump by making 6 of 8 shots, including 2 of 2 three-pointers, and finished with 14 points.
Ellington’s rugged play helped hold Young, the SEC’s fourth-leading scorer with an average of 16.9 points per game, to 7 points on 3-of-12 shooting.
“He’s tough. He’s got athleticism,” Martin said of Ellington. “He’s got a real good mind, and he understands angles.”
The Razorbacks looked to have a handle on their road issues with a sizzling start that included 6-of-7 shooting, including a 3-of-3 effort from Scott, heady defensive rotations and strong rebounding. Arkansas bolted to a 15-3 lead in the first 4:21, at which point Martin called a timeout to settle things down.
“I just told them, ‘We’re three minutes into the game and where are you?’ ” Martin said. “Bruce did most of the talking after that.”
The Gamecocks responded by outscoring Arkansas 32-4 over an 11:15 span that included five three-pointers, one fewer than they average per game.
South Carolina had 18 turnovers, but Arkansas’ full court pressure rarely affected the Gamecocks after the Razorbacks’ initial 15-3 run.
“I’ve got a rule any time we play Mike’s teams: If you dribble the ball along the sideline, you’re coming out of the game,” Martin said. “I don’t care who you are. The ball has to stay in the middle of the floor.”
RECORDS Arkansas 12-7, 3-3 SEC; South Carolina 12-7, 2-4 STARS South Carolina reserve Brian Richardson made 8 of 13 shots and scored 20 points, and guard Bruce Ellington had 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting. Arkansas’ Marshawn Powell had game highs with 22 points and 13 rebounds
TURNING POINT South Carolina erased a 15-3 deficit by outscoring Arkansas 25-2 over a 9:21 span to take command with a 28-17 lead KEY STAT South Carolina shot 57.7 percent from the floor while Arkansas shot 34.4 percent.
UP NEXT Arkansas plays at Alabama at 8 p.m. Thursday on ESPN2
Sports, Pages 21 on 01/27/2013