Matt Jones is the online sports editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and Northwest Arkansas Newspapers. He and his wife live in Fayetteville.
Arkansas finding success away from home
Arkansas' Michael Qualls (24) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Kentucky, Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014, in Lexington, Ky. Arkansas won 71-67. (AP Photo/James Crisp)
FAYETTEVILLE Arkansas might finally be turning the corner on the road.
The Razorbacks have won three of their last four games away from Fayetteville. Mike Anderson's 2-22 start in road games seems a distant memory in light of his team's recent success.
Arkansas' growth was evident in Thursday night's thrilling 71-67 overtime win against Kentucky at Rupp Arena when the Hogs overcame a 4-point deficit in the final 61 seconds of regulation.
"It was a great team win," Anderson said. "Not many people win here. It was a great effort by our young men. We're getting better."
The three road wins this season are the most for Arkansas since 2006. The back-to-back road wins are the first for the Razorbacks since 2010.
Since a 14-point loss at LSU on Feb. 1 when two of the team's top scorers were suspended, Arkansas has looked like a different group on the road. Michael Qualls hit a game-winning 3-pointer in the closing seconds of a win at Vanderbilt, the Razorbacks held off a late rally after leading big at Mississippi State and Ky Madden missed a contested lay-up in the closing seconds of a 1-point loss at Missouri.
Arkansas' players noticed their road improvement even before the Kentucky win.
"We feel real comfortable playing on the road," guard Anthlon Bell said Tuesday. "This last stretch, going five out of six, it has given us a lot of confidence. So we feel like we can go anywhere and win right now.”
Arkansas has now won six of its last seven games overall. In the last week the Razorbacks have ended a pair of long losing streaks away from home.
Last Saturday's win over Mississippi State was Arkansas' first at Humphrey Coliseum since 2000, a span of 12 games. Thursday's win at Kentucky broke a 9-game losing streak at Rupp Arena, where the team had last won in 1994.
The Razorbacks (19-9, 8-7 SEC) now get two straight at home where they have been a tough out under Anderson. Entering Saturday's sold-out game against Georgia, Arkansas is 48-6 at Bud Walton Arena in Anderson's three seasons.
The game against the Bulldogs will give the Razorbacks another chance to right some road wrongs. Arkansas blew a late lead at Georgia late in regulation of a 66-61 overtime loss last month.
A win over the Bulldogs would help bolster the Razorbacks' strengthening NCAA Tournament hopes. Georgia (16-11, 10-5) is third in the SEC standings and has also won six of its last seven games.