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.
Almost, in Athens
Road victory, rebounds elude Hogs in OT
Georgia forward Donte' Williams (15) stretches to grab a rebound during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Arkansas Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014, in Athens, Ga. (AP Photo/The Banner-Herald, Richard Hamm)
ATHENS, Ga. - Arkansas, stagnant on offense while being dominated on the boards, still found itself in position to snatch a rare road victory Saturday afternoon.
The Razorbacks had the ball with 21 seconds left in a tie game with the shot clock off, needing one well-orchestrated play coming out of a timeout to defeat Georgia.
Instead, Ky Madden missed a three-pointer from the top of the circle - there was no repeat of Michael Qualls’ high-flying rebound dunk from Tuesday night - and Georgia grabbed the momentum in overtime for a 66-61 victory before a crowd of6,662 at Stegeman Coliseum.
“It was disappointing on our part,” Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said. “We had an opportunity to win it in regulation. When you go on the road, that’s all you ask, to have an opportunity to win it in regulation.”
The final play in regulation started with the ball in the hands of Madden. Forward Alandise Harris went to the top of the key to set a screen, hoping for a defensive switch, but Madden elected to keep his dribble out at the top and then took a shot from just right of straightaway at the top of the key.
“It was a get down to last second, high pick-and-roll, you know, get the big to switch with Ky,” Arkansas’ Coty Clarke said. “I think originally it was supposed to go to Alandise, but Ky saw something that he liked, kept it. He tried to make a basket, tried to make a play, didn’t work.”
Madden’s shot bounced off the rim with about a second left and the ball trickled out of bounds at the buzzer.
“We actually wanted to attack,” Anderson said. “We wanted to attack, get the ball between Ky and Alandise and attack to the basket. They just backed up and we ended up settling.
“That’s what took place on that play.”
The end result was another overtime game and another road defeat for Arkansas, which is 2-20 in road games under Anderson and 3-23 in its past 26 SEC road games.
Arkansas (12-5, 1-3 SEC), playing its third consecutive overtime game for the first time, shot 31.8 percent and endured a 56-34 beating on the boards.
“Getting beaten bad on the boards by like 20-plus, that’s not winning basketball,” said Clarke, who led the Razorbacks with 13 points before fouling out with two minutes remaining in regulation.
“All these overtime games are definitely frustrating, and knowing that you’re a couple of plays away from being 3-1,it’s definitely frustrating,” Arkansas guard Fred Gulley said. “But it’s nothing we’re going to hang our heads about.”
Georgia (9-7, 3-1 SEC) made 18 of 58 shots, but the Bulldogs made up for their 31-percent shooting by outscoring Arkansas 22-12 in second-chance points. The Bulldogs’ 24 offensive rebounds not only beat Arkansas’ 18 defensive rebounds, it was the most for Georgia in a game since 1997.
“We should feel like we accomplished something today because that is a really good basketball team,” Georgia Coach Mark Fox said of Arkansas. “It was a hard-fought slugfest. That’s a game where both teams are really defending and fortunately for us we won the rebounding battle, but that was a dogfight.”
Anderson said it is stunning that the Razorbacks were outrebounded by 22.
“I thought in the second half we came out and started battling back,” he said. “At times we didn’t do a good job of keeping them out of there, and there were some times I thought they were coming over our backs. But that’s life on the road.”
Georgia outscored Arkansas by 16 at the free-throw line. The Bulldogs made 28 of 39 free throws (71.8 percent) while Arkansas was 12 of 20 (60 percent).
“We took some tough shots going in, thinking that we were going to get the foul and they didn’t get it,” Anderson said. “So credit to Georgia. They did what they had to do to protect the home court.”
Arkansas led most of the way, and the Razorbacks were up 41-34 with 15:56 to play after eight consecutive points by Gulley.
But four separate spells of four-plus minutes without a field goal, including a 6:58 scoreless stretch after taking the seven-point second-half lead, kept the Hogs from pulling away.
“We had some guys that were out there tired that had helped us get a lead and then we brought some guys in,” Anderson said. “It seemed like we just started, to me, we just kind of passed the ball around the horn and we settled for jump shots.”
Clarke’s left-hand basket in the lane gave Arkansas a 46-42 lead with 7:24 left, but the Razorbacks hit one more shot in regulation - a drive by Harris with 2:22 left for a 50-50 tie - then went the first 4:22 of the five-minute overtime without a basket.
Georgia guard Kenny Gaines hit a three-pointer from the left wing - the Bulldogs’ second and last three-pointer of the game - on the opening possession of overtime, and Charles Mann, who went 2 of 10 from the field, cashed in a three-point play at the 2:22 mark in overtime to put Georgia ahead 59-52.
“You always want to come out with the first blow, especially going into overtime,” Gaines said. “I felt like that was a good confidence booster for the rest of the team.”
Clarke led Arkansas with 13 points, making 5 of 9 from the field, and Gulley had 12 points, making 3 of 4 three-pointers and 4 of 7 overall. The rest of the Razorbacks, led by Madden, who scored 12 points and was 3 of 8 from the field, made 12 of 50 shots.
Gaines led Georgia with 15 points on 5-of-12 shooting, while forward Marcus Thornton contributed 11 points and a game-high 13 rebounds in 37 minutes.
Arkansas lost a prime scoring option when Clarke fouled out late in regulation.
“I thought it was big because he was in a rhythm,” Anderson said. “He was our leader on the floor.”
Madden hit two free throws with 1:45 left in regulation to tie the score 52-52. Both teams then committed turnovers after grabbing offensive rebounds, and Georgia freshman J.J. Frazier missed a three point try to set up Arkansas’ final possession in regulation.
“I really, truly feel in my heart we were supposed to win this game,” Clarke said. “There’s no doubt in my mind that coming in here we were supposed to win this game.”Game sketch RECORDS Arkansas 12-5, 1-3 SEC; Georgia 9-7, 3-1 STARS Georgia guard Kenny Gaines led all players with 15 points, including a three-pointer to open overtime. Georgia forward Marcus Thornton had 11 points and a game-high 13 rebounds.
TURNING POINT Arkansas did not capitalize on having the last possession of regulation with the score tied 52-52 as Ky Madden missed a three-pointer from the top of the key. KEY STAT Georgia pounded the Razorbacks 56-34 on the boards and outscored them 22-12 in second-chance points.
UP NEXT Arkansas plays at Tennessee at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
Sports, Pages 21 on 01/19/2014