ATLANTA - For sixth straight year, the Razorbacks will leave the SEC Tournament without having won a game.
South Carolina approriately scored the game's last five points at the free throw line and Arkansas missed three shots in the final 95 seconds that allowed the 13th-seeeded Gamecocks to knock off the Razorbacks 71-69 on Friday afternoon.
Sendarius Thornton had 17 points and Laimonas Chatkevicus added a career-high 16 in a game where South Carolina (14-19) dominated Arkansas on the boards 40-24 and at the free throw line (41 charity tosses to 26).
"One of the things that we talked about was exclusively was the war's going to be won in the paint," Anderson said. "So we've got to put body on body. We've got to rebound the basketball.
"So it's one thing to say it, but you've got to go out and do it, especially in this environment," Anderson added."...I thought they were more in a game mode than we were."
Coty Clarke had 13 points while Bobby Portis and Rashad Madden each added 11, Michael Qualls 10 and Moses Kingsley 7 points and 4 blocks.
The Razorbacks led 69-66 on Qualls' basket with 2:20 left, but failed to score from that point on and the Gamecocks hit five free throws for the rest of the scoring.
After the Gamecocks tied it 69-69 on three free throws, Mardracus Wade missed a 3-pointer with 1:05 left, Madden a jumper with 35 seconds left and then Portis a hook shot with five seconds left.
"I got a great look at my jump hook," Portis said. "It just didn't go down for me. Unfortuantely I shot it too hard and it went to the left."
The loss – the team's second since reeling off a six-game winning streak while winning eight of nine contests - most certainly knocks the Razorbacks (21-11) ioff the NCAA bubble and into the NIT bracket.
It would also since 2008 if the Razorbacks have gotten into the Big Dance if that is how it plays out.
"Well, we're in the hunt for something, I don't know what," Anderson said. "...Like all teams, we want to go to the NCAA. I think these guys have improved throughout the year and did well in our conference. Obviously we got to the conference tournament and didn't get the outcome we wanted, but it wasn't because of lack of effort."
South Carolina, who has now won four of its last five games, had downed Auburn 74-58 on Wednesday night.
"Like we spoke about yesterdaty, survive and advance," Gamecocks head coach Frank Martin said. "That's all your geared up for this time of year.
"I thought we didn't have as much pep in our step today as we had yesterday," Martin added. "On the sideline, I thought our coaches did a great job of just keeping the fight and the belief in our guys."
Arkansas hit five of its first six field goal attempts, but then only hit 4 of its next 21.
It saw a 16-11 lead turn into a six-point deficit before Anthlon Bell's 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer cut it to 35-32.
The Razorbacks led by 3 several times, including 49-46, 59-56 and 69-66, but couldn't hold on to the lead in a game that had 15 ties, 21 leads changes and no deficit larger than six points for either team.
"We weren't mentally focused or prepared," Clarke said. "Today it was just who wanted it more. You can see, like, the proof is in the pudding - like 40 rebounds and they shot 40 free throws. We just had our 24 rebounds and shoot 26 free throws. So that's you game right there. It speaks for itself."
Qualls and Portis tried to take the blame for the loss.
"Man, we just weren't playing Arkansas basketball," Qualls said. "We just got out-hustled. I don't know if it was a hangover from the last game or what. I was ineffective. I should have gotten more rebounds. I should have been more of a presence in that game."
Portis, who was named to the SEC All-freshman team and second-team All-conference and was the team's leading scorer and rebounder this season, said earlier this week that he wasn't considering turning pro and has a lot to work on.
"I would say me, personally, I came out kind of soft on the glass and only had three rebounds this game," Portis said. "I was in foul trouble most of the game so I couldn't be there to help my team. But still that isn't an excuse for me. I guess I just got out-toughed."
Clarke noted the rebounding numbers again.
"Obviously when you have a negative, they have 40 (rebounds) and we have 24, I mean you should lose," Clarke said. "So that's been our weakness and we have been by with it, but it caught up to is today."
Arkansas will now wait to see where and when it plays next as it is almost certainly going to play in the postseason for the first time since 2008.
The NCAA Tournament bracket comes out late Sunday afternoon and then the NIT one later that night.
"When you look at the guys that we have on this team, young guys like Bobby Portis and Moses Kingsley, it's a young basketball team," Anderson said. "So this to me is a great experience for us. And even as we enter - and hopefully it will be the NCAA, but once we enter it, we'll be ready to play in another tournament."
South Carolina 71, Arkansas 69
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