Arkansas guard Rashad Madden needed a little help after a turnover and teammate Alandise Harris needed to make up for missing five straight free throws -- four during a Clemson rally.
Clemson guard Demarcus Harrison picked Madden's pocket and was driving for a layup that would have cut the Arkansas lead that had been as large as 16 points to just three points with 2:30 left.
But the 6-6 Harris swooped from behind to block Harrison's shot to calm the fears of the 7,432 at Bud Walton Arena, then hit two free throws to help the Razorbacks hold off the Tigers, 74-68, on an icy cold Saturday afternoon at Bud Walton Arena.
The Hogs (6-2) hit only two field goals in the final 10 minutes, but made 10 of 18 free throws to hold off the Tigers (7-2). Bobby Portis hit a layup with four seconds left for the final UA bucket.
Sophomore Michael Qualls scored 17 points on 6 of 7 shooting. He made both of his 3-point shots and was 3 of 4 from the line. Madden added 14 points and Portis scored 13.
Harris scored 8 points and led the Hogs with seven rebounds. All agreed that his block was the key play in the game.
"(Harrison) ripped me and I appreciate Alandise making the big play," Madden said.
Qualls said, "That's big, huge. He'd just missed two free throws and like Ky said, the guy ripped him. He made the block and then came back with the two free throws in a big moment. He went and helped Ky. It was a big-time block."
Clemson coach Brad Brownell said it killed the visitors' rally.
"Demarcus had made a huge steal and was going for a layup," Brownell said. "I think Harris had the angle and I don't think Demarcus saw him coming. That block sealed our fate."
Arkansas coach Mike Anderson didn't argue.
"They had made a play and Alandise came back to make a play," Anderson said. "The lead was five and it was going to three. Alandise made amends for missing free throws. Players make plays and he did that."
Qualls said, "If you want to be a big-time player, you have to live that moment. That's what Alandise did. It was a block that everyone everywhere heard."
Anderson thought it was time for the Hogs to start making plays after letting the Tigers slip back into the game.
"Our guys gutted it out against a very good defensive-minded Clemson team," he said. "Give Clemson credit because this is one of Coach Brownell's better teams and they fought back into it. It was a defensive battle and our guys had enough in the tank to finish it."
Clemson entered with the nation's lowest points allowed at 51.0. The Hogs countered with the SEC's top scoring team, 12th nationally, with 86.6 per game.
Harris hit a 3-pointer with four seconds left in the first half to finish a 16-6 run. Madden hit two threes in the first 90 seconds of the first half to help the Hogs take control.
The Hogs won it with better shooting. They hit 10 of 21 from beyond the 3-point line for 47.6 percent. Clemson was as cold as the weather outside Bud Walton, 22 degrees at tipoff with seven inches of ice and snow. The Tigers shot 32.8 percent overall, 3 of 15 for 20 percent on threes.
"The threes, that was what they were giving us," Anderson said. "Alandise hit a big one right before halftime. We've got to capitalize a little more on free throws because they sent us there 31 times (and the Hogs made just 20 for 64.5 percent)."
Qualls hit two threes and drove to the rim for a layup to account for all of the points in an 8-0 Arkansas run for an 18-13 lead at the 11:25 mark of the first half. It stretched to 23-15 on Anthlon Bell's 3-point shot. But Clemson rallied with a 9-0 run, scoring three times on run outs for a 26-24 lead.
Anderson stopped that with a timeout at the 5:39 mark and the Hogs took control with a 16-6 run to finish the half. Harris canned a 3-pointer, then Madden hit two more triples. Harris hit a 3-pointer after the Hogs ran the shot clock down to four seconds – with :03 showing on the first-half clock – to take a 40-32 lead into the locker room.
The Hogs won the first six minutes of the second half, 14-6, to stretch the lead to 54-38. Qualls drove the lane for a pair of left-hand acrobatic layins to finish off that run. It was still 56-41 on a Qualls rebound basket. It was still 15 at 62-47 with 7:46 left when Moses Kingsley hit two foul shots.
Portis hit a 15-foot jumper to make it 65-53 at the 4:06 mark, but the Tigers clawed to the finish. The Hogs didn't score again until Harris hit the two foul shots at the 1:17 mark to make it 67-60. The Tigers got as close as 72-68 on two free throws with 8.8 seconds left.
Qualls displayed what Anderson called "a complete game." There were highlight plays on catch-and-shoot bombs from outside and a nice drive game with the left hand from the righthanded 6-6 sophomore.
"He knows when to pick it," Anderson said. "And when not to. He is evolving as a player."
Qualls said, "I have to get it through my head that I can't finish with a dunk every time. I have gotten to where I can hit that nice little floater (with his left hand). I want to be able to get it to the rim. I think if I knock down shots (from outside), I put my man on an island. I think we can shoot the threes."
Brownell said it's tough to decide where to concentrate against the Hogs.
"Mike's got six players," he said. "We didn't know that Madden could shoot it like that, but we knew that Qualls, Portis and some others could score. It's hard to play all of them."
Anderson wasn't pleased with all aspects of the play by his team. The Hogs got outscored on fast break points, 12-2. They led in second-chance points, 15-14, only because Clemson could not finish on many of their offensive rebounds. They outboarded the Hogs, 45-30.
Anderson was upset at the series of run outs by the Tigers in the first half. What did he say during the timeout at the 7:40 mark?
"We were flat," Anderson said. "We needed to get some guys in with more energy. We were settling for the threes a little too much and it was feast or famine. They were beating us down the floor and we had to get some guys out there who would play with a little more energy."
Alandise Harris puts up a shot against Clemson.
Bobby Portis looks for an opening to pass.
Moses Kingsley scored 5 points.
Michael Qualls slips to the basket.
Alandise Harris draws a foul.
Qualls powers to the basket with his left hand.
Photos by Jason Ivester, Hawgs Illustrated
Arkansas 74, Clemson 68
Hawgs Daily Top Stories
Scout On the Road: SeptemberScout takes a look at some of the top prospects we saw in person during the month of September...
Scout FootballWednesday at 2:00 PM
Longhorns Preview Oklahoma StateTexas offensive players discuss the Longhorns' upcoming game at Oklahoma State to kickoff Big 12 Conference play.
Horns DigestMonday at 6:21 PM
Louisiana CB 'Real Close' to a DecisionIt may not be too long before one of the top cornerbacks in Louisiana makes his decision. Four schools are high on his list and you can get the latest here...
Scout FootballMonday at 6:15 AM
JC defensive back talks ISU official visitOver the weekend, Iowa State played host to one of their top 2017 targets in the current recruiting cycle in Paramount, CA three-star JUCO CB Keisean Nixon. This visit for the…
AllCyclonesSunday at 6:34 PM