Arkansas 81, LSU 70

Rashad Madden has 21 points and Coty Clarke scores all 16 of his points after halftime as Arkansas rallies past LSU late and downs the Tigers 81-70 Saturday afternoon. It happened before a season-high crowd of 18,904 fans that included former Razorback coaches Nolan Richardson and Eddie Sutton and former President Bill Clinton.

An Arkansas team learning to close out games did just that on a special day at Bud Walton Arena.

Rashad Madden had 21 points and 5 assists and Alandise Harris' dunk over LSU big man Johnny O'Bryant III ignited a 27-10 finish as the Razorbacks rallied past the LSU Tigers 81-70 Saturday afternoon before a season-high crowd of 18,904 fans.

That large throng included former Razorback coaches Nolan Richardson and Eddie Sutton and former President Bill Clinton as well as some of the program's best ever players on a day when Arkansas' six Final Four teams were honored.

"It was electric in this arena today," current Razorback head coach Mike Anderson said. "And it was an obvious reason why. We had a lot of champions here, Final Four teams, a Hall of Fame coach in Eddiie Sutton, a Hall of Fame coach in Nolan Richardson. Guys that are responsible for the great tradition. And more importantly, all the players that played on the Final Fours, that is the is reason why we're here today in this building.

"So it was great to see those guys, and for all those guys to get together 20 years removed from a national championship," Anderson said. "This was a meeting - as I said to those guys - of the past, the present, and we'll see in the future."

Coty Clarke scored all 16 point his points in the second half and grabbed 7 of his 9 rebounds after intermission while Bobby Portis added 15 points and 8 rebounds, Michael Qualls 13 points and Harris 8 points, 4 rebounds and 3 blocks.

Arkansas (16-9, 5-7) has now won three of its last four with the only blemish being a one-point loss at Missouri on Thursday.

The Razorbacks have South Carolina and Mississippi State – arguably the SEC's worst two teams up next – as they continue to push toward a postseason berth for the first time since 2008.

"I feel like we're clicking now," Madden said. "We're playing together. We're playing smart and we're playing hard. That's all you really can ask every night. I feel like every player goes out and we leave it all out on the floor. As long as we continue to do that every night we'll be successful and go far."

LSU (15-9, 6-6) – which humbled the Razorbacks 88-74 two weeks earlier in Baton Rouge - led Arkansas 57-54 before Harris attacked the goal and slammed over O' Bryant, who had a monster game with 20 points and 16 rebounds.

Portis followed up with the next two baskets and Arkansas would never trail again and stretched it out to 14 when Portis hit another jumper with 46 seconds left to make it 81-67.

"You always talk about momentum, and you never know when it's going to take place," Anderson said. "That was probably a tribute to we kept attacking, we kept attacking. We never did pull off the accelerator (after that).

"I think there have been some games where we played not to lose," Anderson added. "But we were still in attack mode. And so it was good to see him kind of unleash the beast in him. That's what we needed at that point and time, and it just went through our basketball team."

With Qualls scoring as many points early as LSU, Arkansas led 21-11 early on before taking a 37-33 lead to intermission – something Tigers head coach Johnny Jones was actually happy about.

Qualls and Harris, who were suspended for the first game with LSU, combined for 21 points in this one.

"We knew coming in today it would be this type of environment here today and I thought our guys did an excellent job of responding the right way," LSU head coach Johnny Jones said. "We knew they would come out playing extremely hard with the success that they have had lately and especially here at home."

Four of Arkansas' first five field goals were 3-pointers on a day when the Razorbacks were 10-of-17 from beyond the arc and 17-of-42 inside of it.

"I thought they got off to a great start, thought our guys did an excellent job of settling in, played extremely hard and settled down at the end of the first half and went in with only a four-point deficit," Jones said.

"I thought in the second half that we stayed the course, got a lead and I thought our guys played extremely hard," Jones added, "but you certainly have to credit Arkansas with the way they played down the stretch – not only making some big plays, but some timely plays knocking down big 3s late in the game that really gave them a cushion and that made it really hard for us to recover there at the end."

O'Bryant went over 1,000 points scored during the game as he put up yet another big effort as has been his norm this season.

"He has really made an impact on our program all year long and he has been a great go-to guy for us," Jones said. "Tonight he had a huge game not only scoring, but 16 rebounds. I thought he defended the paint really well for us.

"If we can just continue getting efforts like that and other guys to get better, I think some great things can happen for us," Jones said. " I like to see great things happen to great people and he is a wonderful person. Hard work pays off and I think his numbers indicate that today."

LSU won the board battle 46-36, but that was somewhat misleading in how competitive Arkansas was on the boards as the Tigers got 5 offensive rebounds on one trip.

The Razorbacks competed on the boards despite not having 6-10 freshman center Moses Kingsley available for the game because of a back injury suffered Thursday night at Missouri.

"We missed his presence and it showed right there going down that stretch with four minutes to go in the first half," Anderson said. "His presence from a standpoint of the physicality. Maybe they don't get those offensive rebounds. He can block shots. He can score. He's a good passer. Again, another big body.

"And you notice when Bobby got tired, those bodies got a little small," Anderson added. "But the beauty of it is, the second half, I thought our guys played big. I thought Alandise and Coty, they played bigger and they had a lot more energy to do that."

The prognosis for Kingsley?

"We'll get him in there tomorrow, he'll get treatment and we'll see," Anderson added. "It will be a day-to-day evaluation on that."

Madden was 12-of-14 from their line and there plenty to ice the game late as he went over 20 points for the fifth time this season.

"I am just starting to play with confidence and my teammates are finding me and keep encouraging me every day," Madden said. "Not only in games but in practices they encourage me a lot. With me it's just a game, but I try my best to do what I can do to help my team win."

He had one ridiculous behind the back pass – or at least heave – while falling out of bounds that Portis grabbed for around the goal and put in for a 75-66 lead with 3:19 left.

"That was my first time ever doing that," Madden said. " I just threw it and just trusted him enough to go and get it. It was a four-on-one, so I knew if it was a little dude defending him, I knew if I got it by the rim there was a good chance that one of my players was going to get it."

Arkansas will host South Carolina Wednesday night at 8 p.m.

Alandise Harris gets one of his three blocks on the day.

Michael Qualls had 11 of his team's first 21 points on Saturday and finished with 13.

Bobby Portis had 15 points, 8 rebounds, 4 steals and a block while playing 35 minutes on Saturday.

Rashad Madden has now scored over 20 points in five different games this season.

Coty Clarke had all 16 of his points in the second half.

JaCorey Williams tries to find room inside against LSU's Tim Quarterman and Johnny O'Bryant (2).

Hawgs Daily Top Stories