NASHVILLE, Tenn. - When he first heard that Arkansas was going to wear its anthracite uniforms against Vanderbilt on Saturday, junior guard Rashad Madden had a strange first reaction.
"The first I thought was, I need some new shoes (to match the uniform)," Madden said. "… We found the day before we left (Thursday) that we were wearing them, and it was too late (to get new shoes)."
New shoes or not, expect the Razorbacks to be in those uniforms when they show up to play at Missouri Thursday night at 6 p.m. in a game that will be televised by ESPN.
That's because Arkansas (15-8, 4-6) broke through for its first road win of the season in their first appearance in anthracite on Saturday while downing Vanderbilt 77-75 before 10,647 at Memorial Gym.
"We've been harping about wearing them the whole year, and we finally got to, and it was a perfect time," Madden said. "A new season, new everything. Just a good time to bring them out. It gave us energy. It was cool."
For a program that has been abysmal on the road in the past decade – and won just three games on the road in the last three years – it was certainly worth trying.
After letting a nine-point lead fritter away, Madden hit a 3-pointer and a shot in the lane that tied things both times and then Michael Qualls delivered a game-winning 3-pointer with four seconds left off of his assist.
"We're starting to build," Madden said. " We've got another road game against Missouri, so we know we've got to take this same energy and effort to play Missouri so we can get that win as well. We know what it takes to win on the road now, because we got this one."
Certainly it was a better ending than Arkansas has had in its previous four road games of the current campaign.
"(It was) just keeping our composure and staying together, and doing what we've doing to keep us in the game," Madden said. "Coach (Anderson) always tells us whenever we're on the road, the only thing we need is just to stay in the game and have a shot going down late. And we did. We drew something up, Mike got a good look, I kicked it to him and he knocked it down."
Qualls, who finished with a team-high 17 points, was the beneficiary of a play that was designed for Madden to use a Coty Clarke screen to first try to get to the rim and either make a shot or draw contact and go to the free throw line.
"The play was for Ky to go down," Qualls said. "… Everybody was in the spot they were supposed to be in, he drove … to draw people. If not, then he could go all the way. But when he drove, the other people sucked in, and he passed, and I'm supposed to knock the shot down. So I did that."
Razorback head coach Mike Anderson called timeout right before Vanderbilt's Kevin Fuller hit two free throws to put the Commodores – who had won four straight – up 75-74 with 11.6 seconds left.
"We were fortunate that I guess we had the last possession and we executed a play coming out of that timeout," Anderson said. "Mike knocked down a big shot. Ky made a great pass to him – something that we haven't been doing throughout the year. But that goes to back to the experience factor that we are learning how to win."
It was a quite a turnaround for both Qualls and the Razorbacks from the previous Saturday when they lost at LSU.
Qualls and Alandise Harris were both suspended for that game and the Razorbacks did not arrive back home until nearly 4 a.m. after their plane went off the runway.
"It was very frustrating," Qualls said. "You're always frustrated when you feel helpless in a situation Whether you're there or not, or if you're on the court and you're not producing. You always feel helpless when you're not helping your team. So, it's big."
Arkansas got the win when Vanderbilt's Rod Odom, whose team used a 12-0 run late to take a 3-point lead at 71-68, missed a hurried 3-pointer as time expired.
"I really thought we had this one," Odom said. "Especially once we were up with 3 or 4 [minutes left]. I really thought that we had this one, and Madden hit a big shot to tie them up. So it's frustrating. Very frustrating."
Vanderbilt head coach Kevin Stallings praised Madden for stepping up and hitting big shots – which occurred on the opposite end of the court from him because Memorial Gyms benches are on the baseline instead of the sidelines.
"Those were big shots," Stallings said. "I thought on one there might have been a charge, but that was a long way away from me. I'd have to see it on film to see whether or not I was right from 95 feet away. He just made big shots. Those were two of the big ones because we had them stopped until he made a couple of those."
Count Qualls in on those looking for new shoes to go along with the new road uniforms.
"They're great," Qualls said. "We're on a new path, so Coach brought out some new jerseys. They're clean. Now we've got to get some shoes."
Michael Qualls lets go of his game-winning shot Saturday over Kyle Fuller and James Siakam on Saturday.
Qualls watches the flight of his shot as Fuller and Siakam look on helplessly.
Qualls (24) and Bobby Portis celebrate after the final buzzer sounded.
Portis, Mardracus Wade and Coty Clarke pressure Vanderbilt' Damian Jones.
Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson voices his displeasure to a referee on Saturday.
Arkansas Goes Anthracite For the Win
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