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.
SEC BASKETBALL ARKANSAS 110, OLE MISS 80:
It’s a UA three-for-all
Hogs sink 17 threes, bury Rebs
Arkansas coach Mike Anderson, center, claps as members of the Arkansas team celebrate near the end of the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Fayetteville, Ark., Wednesday, March 5, 2014. Arkansas defeated Mississippi 110-80. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)
FAYETTEVILLE - None of Arkansas’ five seniors had beaten Ole Miss going into Wednesday night’s game in Walton Arena.
“I think they got tired of hearing that,” Rebels Coach Andy Kennedy said.
The Razorbacks ended a six-game losing streak against Ole Miss in a big way, pounding the Rebels 110-80 in Walton Arena before an announced crowd of 16,508 on Senior Night.
Arkansas (21-9, 10-7 SEC) also broke the Rebels’ four game Walton Arena winning streak, which included victories over the Razorbacks on Senior Night in 2009, 2010 and 2012.
“If you want to script up a Senior Night, you saw it tonight,” Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said. “Ole Miss is a lot better than what took place tonight, but I think we had something to do with that.”
Razorbacks senior guard Mardracus Wade said it felt good to finally beat Ole Miss, especially since Kennedy recruited him when he played at Memphis Mitchell High School.
“I just wanted to win so bad,” Wade said. “I had a lot of confidence coming into this game. I felt like we practiced hard these last couple of days and the focus was there.
“I felt like these guys wanted to let the seniors go out with a bang, and that’s what they did.”
The Razorbacks, who led the Rebels by 46 points with 10 minutes to play, won a sixth consecutive SEC regular-season game for the first time since 1998 as they continue to drive for their first NCAA Tournament bid since 2008.
“This is a hard place to win, and Mike’s got a good team and they’re a team that’s battling for their NCAA Tournament lives,” Kennedy said. “We knew we were going to catch a team that’s very, very hungry, playing with a lot of confidence, playing as well as anybody in our league to this point, and they certainly showed that tonight.
“That’s an NCAA Tournament team, and hopefully they’ll continue to show that and get that opportunity.”
Arkansas made 17 of 30 three-point attempts to tie its most three-pointers in an SEC game. The Razorbacks also hit 17 three-pointers against Auburn in 1995 and 1998. The school record is 21 against Troy in 1996.
“The basket was big,” Anderson said. “It was like an ocean.”
Sophomore guard Anthlon Bell led Arkansas witha career-high 23 points in 12 minutes and hit 7 of 10 three point attempts.
Wade scored a season-high 18 points and made 5 of 7 three-pointers. Junior guard Ky Madden scored 14 points, and senior forward Coty Clarke and junior forward Alandise Harris added 13 points each.
Senior guard Marshall Henderson led Ole Miss (17-13, 8-9) with 15 points.
The Razorbacks had 27 assists on 37 baskets and had 6 turnovers while constantly pushing the pace while the Rebels had 18 turnovers. Arkansas outscored Ole Miss 27-9 in points off of turnovers and 19-4 on fast-break points.
None of the Razorbacks played more than freshman forward Bobby Portis’ 21 minutes, and 12 played at least 11 minutes each.
“They’ve found themselves, I think, from a rotation standpoint,” Kennedy said. “They’ve got a lot of different pieces which compliment one another. No two players are alike on their team. They can come at you in waves.”
Arkansas outscored Ole Miss 34-14 during a 9:32 span of the first half to move ahead 50-31 with 1:38 left in the half after the Rebels has scored seven consecutive points to take a 17-16 lead.
“We were in the game, making a couple of shots, battling, both teams competing,” Kennedy said. “Then we had three or four possessions where they created turnovers in our back court which led directly to baskets.”
Bell fueled the Razorbacks’ run by scoring 14 points in a 2:54 span, including four three-point baskets.
Arkansas had five consecutive three-point baskets - two by Bell, one by Clarke and two more by Bell - to push their lead to 37-25 with 6:33 left in the half.
Three-pointers by Madden and Wade gave Arkansas a 47-31 lead. Sophomore forward Jacorey Williams’ dunk and a free throw by Wade made it 50-31.
The Razorbacks pushed the lead to 56-34 by halftime, then kept pouring it on.
Anderson said it was as good a Senior Night game as he can remember as a coach.
“My memory don’t serve me right the older I get, but that’s probably as well as it has been that I can recall,” Anderson said. “That was phenomenal.”
The Razorbacks are 8-1 in their past nine SEC games to recover from a 2-6 start, but they aren’t ready to call themselves an NCAA Tournament team going into Saturday’s regular-season finale at Alabama.
“I feel like we know where we want to go, but at the same time we’re staying humble and hungry,” Wade said. “We still have a lot to do.”
Lighting it up
Arkansas’ most points in an SEC game:
SCORE OPPONENT YEAR
117-105 Auburn 1994
115-58 Miss. State 1993
114-93 Ole Miss 1992
110-80 Ole Miss 2014
110-92 Auburn 1992
108-105 LSU 1994
Game sketch RECORDS Arkansas 21-9, 10-7 SEC; Ole Miss 17-13, 8-9.
STARS Arkansas sophomore guard Anthlon Bell (23 points in 12 minutes, 7 of 10 on three-pointers), senior guard Mardracus Wade (18 points, 3 assists) and junior guard Ky Madden (14 points, 7 assists, 3 steals) TURNING POINT Arkansas outscored Ole Miss 34-14 during a 9:32 span of the first half to move ahead 50-31 with 1:38 left in the half after the Rebels had scored seven consecutive points to take a 17-16 lead.
KEY STAT The Razorbacks made 17 of 30 three-point baskets to tie its most in an SEC game.
Sports, Pages 17 on 03/06/2014