Arkansas 71, Ole Miss 70

Manuale Watkins' game-winning shot with 6.4 seconds left lifts No. 24 Arkansas to its 20th win with a 71-70 win at Ole Miss before a sellout crowd of 8,719 fans in the last game scheduled to be play at The Tad Pad between the two schools.

Manuale Watkins scored the winning basket with 6.4 seconds to play as No. 24 Arkansas escaped with a 71-70 win over Ole Miss on Saturday.

With time winding down and Ole Miss holding a one-point lead, Rashad Madden came down to the right of the net and tried to go up for a shot, but was well defended. He dished the ball over to the left for Watkins, who lofted it in for the lead.

"I shoot that shot every day in practice. It felt good and it went in for me," said Watkins, who averages just 3.1 points per game.

Watkins is now 34-of-47 from the field (72.3 percent) this season, but his shot Saturday was the biggest of them all.

"Ky (Madden) got it and drove and the defense collapsed and so I went in there and was just at the right place at the right time," added Watkins, a sophomore walk on who had a career-high 8 points. "He found me like Ky always does. The only thing going through my mind after that was please don't let them hit a shot to win it...I got back and tried to make sure we got a stop."

Jarvis Summers' jumper at the other end was off and the clock expired before the Rebels could attempt another shot in the last game between the two in The Tad Pad, which has been around since 1966 and will be replaced next season with a new $64 million arena.

"What a way to go out here in our last game here," Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson said. "These were two teams that were just like heavyweights going at each other. It had the atmosphere of an NCAA Tournament game to tell you the truth. My hat goes off to (Ole Miss head coach ) Andy (Kennedy) and his team. They really got after it."

It also avenged the Razorbacks' lone home loss of the season, which came when Ole Miss - who had won six straight coming into Saturday night's game - downed Arkansas 96-82 by scoring the most points any opponent had ever recorded at Bud Walton Arena.

The Rebels shot 72 percent in the first half and 56.4 percent overall in that game, embarrassing the Razorbacks' defense.

Arkansas - who has now won five road games this season - was better on that end of the floor Saturday, holding Ole Miss to just 34.3 percent shooting in the first half. The Rebels stayed in the game thanks to 21 offensive rebounds and a 45-31 overall rebounding advantage.

"They stole one at our place," Anderson said, "and we came down here and stole one from them."

Kennedy's team had won its last six games.

"It was a high-level game," Kennedy said. "It was a very physical game. Two teams fighting for their lives. We made the shot Thursday night (against Florida) in a highly-contested game. We missed the shot tonight, and Arkansas made the play. I told the team that I didn't think we lost the game; I thought Arkansas won it."

Arkansas (20-5, 9-3), who took over sole second place in the SEC with the win, as the Razorbacks rallied from down 68-63 with 3:30 left in the game to win.

"To our guys' credit, they wouldn't go away and we didn't panic," Anderson said. "We made big plays after big plays and our defense was the big difference in this game."

Michael Qualls had 15 points and nine rebounds, Anton Beard added a career-high 14 points and Bobby Portis had 12 points and five boards for the Razorbacks, who have won their last four games and seven of their last eight.

Madden had 10 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds for Arkansas and had the nifty pass to Watkins for the game-winner.

"The beauty of it is when he started facilitating, even on that last play," Anderson said. "We have seen Ky (Madden) try to make that play, but this time he kind of facilitated to Manuale Watkins, who finished it.

"It was just a total team effort," Anderson added.

Ole Miss won the rebound battle, but Qualls had four in the final two minutes and the Rebels did not have a field in the last 3:30 of the game and only two free throws at the 2:12 mark in that time.

"I really challenged Michael Qualls and he really stepped up to the plate," Anderson said. "It looked like he was walking on air getting those rebounds. Those defensive rebounds he got two or three going down the stretch there were huge. We also made Ole Miss take difficult shots.

Beard was 5-of-5 from the field - hitting all 4 of his 3-pointers - while Watkins was 4-of-4 from the field.

"We really wanted to come in here, play hard and play some defense," Watkins said. "We didn't play good defense last time and they kicked our tail. We played a little harder on that end and the outcome was what we wanted."

Arkansas won despite Ole Miss shooting 12 free throws to the Razorbacks' none on the first half and the visitors shooting their first free throw until more than 26 minutes into the game, when Moses Kingsley went to the line for two free throws with 13:35 remaining.

The Rebels - who lead the nation in free throw shooting at 79 percent as a team - ended up 15-of-22 overall and the visitors were 6-of-10.

M.J. Rhett had 16 points and nine boards and Stefan Moody added 16 points and six boards for the Rebels (17-8, 8-4).

Michael Qualls plays defense against Stefan Moody with Rashad Madden coming into view.

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