No. 18 Arkansas 65, Mississippi State 61

Rashad Madden scores 16 points, Michael Qualls 14, Bobby Portis adds 13 points and 9 rebounds despite playing with the flu and Anton Beard hits all six of his free throws while chipping in 11 points as No. 18 Arkansas wins its sixth straight game by rallying at Mississippi State for a 65-61 win on Saturday.

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Rashad Madden scored 16 points, Michael Qualls added 14 and No. 18 Arkansas rallied to beat Mississippi State 65-61 on Saturday.

Arkansas (22-5, 11-3), who has won six straight games, held Mississippi State scoreless for more than 6 minutes late in the second half to take control.

"All I've got to say is defense, defense, defense," Razorback head coach Mike Anderson said. "It certainly wasn't anything offensively. We did enough to win offensively, but I thought our defense - protecting the rim at times, just the scrappiness and causing havoc with 23 turnovers.

"We didn't shoot the ball well, but at the end of the day we made enough plays to win the game," Anderson added. "...This team continues to amaze me. They continue to reach down and find different ways to win and that's a sign of a good team."

Bobby Portis - who had 13 points, 9 rebounds and 4 blocks despite the flu before fouling out late - made two free throws with 5:25 remaining to put the Razorbacks ahead for good.

"Bobby didn't even practice yesterday," Anderson said. "Bobby has been sick and throwing up and just real, real sick. He's had it for the last two days. For him to play the way he did today was just all heart and Bobby loving this basketball team and not letting them down."

The Razorbacks have won eight of their last 12 road games in conference play dating to last season.

Arkansas has won nine of its last 10 overall and the win solidified its hold on second in the SEC race with third-place Texas A&M (19-7, 10-4) due in Tuesday night for an 8 p.m. game at Bud Walton Arena.

Former Arkansas head coach Nolan Richardson will be honored at that game with a banner raised to the rafters at Bud Walton Arena.

"I want to issue a big-time challenge to Razorback fans," Anderson said. "I want that place packed to see this basketball team play. Not only that, but let's pay tribute to Nolan Richardson on Tuesday night against a very, very good Texas A&M team."

Three of Arkansas' last four games have been on the road and the Razorbacks have put them all in the win column.

"They (the Razorbacks) continue to grow," Anderson said. "That's all we want to do is to keep getting better each and every game - each and every outing. We have had three games on the road here going down this stretch and so now it is 2- 2 - two at home and two on the road."

Arkansas' whipped Mississippi State 61-41 earlier in the season in a game where the Bulldogs were down 30-9 at halftime after going 2-of-21 from the first half and not scoring for over 13 minutes.

Mississippi State (12-15, 5-9) looked as if it had a good chance to pull the upset until its offense fell apart down the stretch.

The Bulldogs went nearly 8 minutes without a field goal until Craig Sword made a 3-pointer with 33.1 seconds remaining to cut the Razorbacks' lead to 60-57.

"I thought fatigue was a big factor," Anderson said. "But you knew that Mississippi State was going to come out and play angry and they did. I thought they for sure that the game we played in Fayetteville - the first half for sure - they wanted to prove they were a lot better than that."

Mississippi State pulled to 61-59, but Arkansas' Anton Beard (11 points) had a crucial steal with 12 seconds remaining to seal the win.

Sword led Mississippi State with 15 points. Gavin Ware had 13 points and nine rebounds.

"They were attacking and really getting after us with our full-court pressure and man-to-man so we played a zone for the most part and I thought our match-up zone was really, really good for the most part."

Arkansas struggled with its shooting touch the entire afternoon and trailed 33-32 at halftime. The Razorbacks stayed in the game by forcing 11 first-half turnovers -- largely because of its full-court press.

The game was feisty early, especially after Arkansas' Jacorey Williams was called for a flagrant foul after a hard hit on Mississippi State's Roquez Johnson when he was going up for a fast-break dunk.

The Bulldogs shot 13 of 29 (44.8 percent) in the first half, led by Ware's eight points and seven rebounds.

Arkansas looked as if it might take control early in the second half, jumping out to a 40-36 lead, but Mississippi State stayed close until the end.

The Bulldogs shot just 9 of 24 (37.5 percent) in the second half.

The Razorbacks were just 19-of-54 from the field and 3-of-15 from 3-point range, but got to the free throw line a lot and made 24-of-31 while the hosts were just 14-of-21.

"We did't make many shots, but we got to the free throw line and made some of the key ones going down the stretch," Anderson said.

Arkansas had 11 blocks in the game with Moses Kingsley leading the way with five, Portis adding four and Alandise Harris and Anthlon Bell adding one each.

"We did a great job of protecting the rim with Moses and Bobby and Alandise Harris had a big block on Gavin Ware late in the game," Anderson said.

Arkansas junior Jacorey Williams added 7 points for Arkansas.

Mississippi State starting point guard I.J. Ready - a former backcourt mate of Beard at Little Rock Parkview - didn't play Saturday because of an ankle injury suffered against Ole Miss on Thursday night.





Moses Kingsley - who had 4 points, 5 blocks and 6 rebounds - works inside against Oliver Black (22) and Gavin Ware (20).





Mississippi State's Trivante Bloodman proclaims his innocence as a basketball goes out of bounds.


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