No. 21 Arkansas 60, Georgia 49

Michael Qualls had 15 points and Anthlon Bell added 10 on a day when Razorback star Bobby Portis had a season-low four points as No. 21 Arkansas downs Georgia 60-49 Saturday afternoon to advance to the SEC Tournament title game against No. 1 Kentucky

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Listen to any radio show, visit any message board or listen to the talk at the local coffee shop and one thing seems like a constant - if SEC Player of the Year Bobby Portis has a bad game, there is no way Arkansas wins.

For at least one day, that was a myth.

Michael Qualls scored 15 points and Anthlon Bell added 10 as No. 21 Arkansas beat third-seeded Georgia 60-49 on Saturday in the Southeastern Conference semifinals. It set up a second shot this season at No. 1 Kentucky (33-0), who routed short-handed Auburn 91-67 in the day's first semifinal.

"It was a hard fought game," Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson said. "We get a chance to go play in the championship game. That's what we came here for and our guys are looking forward to the opportunity and the challenge of playing a great Kentucky team."

They did so despite a woeful shooting day from SEC Player of the Year Portis - who was 1-of-14 from the field, but did grab 12 rebounds as the Razorbacks (26-7) moved into Sunday's noon final against No. 1 Kentucky (33-0).

""I'm just proud of everybody for stepping up," Portis said. "A total team effort. I'm a team guy."

Portis, who had 26 points and 11 rebounds in Friday night's 80-72 win over Tennessee, had scored in double figures in 30 of 31 games going into Saturday's semifinals.

"He's human," Anderson said. "The guys been so consistent. He's been like a machine. But Bobby, the beauty of it, look at all of the other things he did. He didn't score now, but it wasn't because he wasn't trying.

"...When you look at his numbers - the rebounding, the contested shots, his activeness out there, that tells me he is the ultimate team player," Anderson added. "...One field goal, 1-for-14 , but he still impacts the game in a mighty way."

It will be Arkansas' first SEC tournament championship game appearance since 2008 and the Razorbacks will be looking to win their first title since 2000.

"Major," Qualls said when asked about what a win on Sunday would mean. "That will be a great accomplishment for the state and this team. It just shows the hard work we put in during the off-season, waking up at 5 a.m., running, working hard every day.

"Every day we put into this, the losses, the tough losses that we have taken and yet we're still in this situation," Qualls added.

"It shows you the growth and the expansion that we have had, that Coach (Anderson) has had since he got here," Qualls continued. "Every year we get a little bit better. So he's doing the right things and we are just trying to move in the right direction."

Both teams struggled in a sluggish game for teams that played Friday night, with the Bulldogs leaving the arena around midnight.

Georgia (21-11) and Arkansas both struggled out of the gate with the Razorbacks leading just 12-10 with seven minutes left in the first half and 25-17 at halftime.

"Hard fought game - quite frankly an ugly game," Bulldogs head coach Mark Fox said. "It's just very difficult for both teams to play late last night and then turn around and try to play pretty basketball the next afternoon. That's a lot of ask of these guys."

He was pleased at how his team - which lost both games to Arkansas this season - was able to slow down Portis.

"Well, he's the best player in the league," Fox said. "I voted for him for Player of the Year in the conference. We certainly gave him some attention and we tried to do our best to take their best scorer away I thought we did that today.

"...He's a great, great player," Fox added. "He didn't have very good day, but he's hard to guard. I tell you that."

It was a big day for the Arkansas bench, who had just six points in Friday's win, but 23 on Saturday with Bell getting 10 and 6-5 freshman guard Nick Babb - who had not scored a point in SEC games this season - having five early when the Razorbacks were struggling.

"Our offense was not that entertaining," Anderson said. "I thought it seemed like we were playing on empty to start the game off. Then of course we interjected a freshman by the name of Nick Babb and I thought he gave us an interjection of energy. That really just trickled over into the second half."

The Arkansas coach had told Babb - who also had three assists, a rebound and no turnovers in 12 minutes - to be ready before the game.

"I just had a gut feeling about it," Anderson said. "I told him earlier at the hotel when we were leaving. I said 'you've got to step up tonight, you're going to have to play. Be ready. I am going to call you today.'

"So he was ready," Anderson added. "He went out and did all the things that I thought he was capable of. He played with confidence. But you have got to remember now, that in practice, he does that every single day. So he's ready to take that next step.

"...We needed an injection," Anderson continued. "Somebody with some energy. Somebody that could go out and spark our team and he was that spark today."

Anderson thought his bench would have to play extended minutes on Saturday and they ended up combining for 76.

"I thought that was the big key if you talk about the difference in that game," Anderson said. "I thought our bench was very critical in that game - whether it be Babb, whether it be Anthlon Bell, who I thought came out and just really got going and knocked down some shots for us."

Marcus Thornton and Cameron Forte each scored 13 points for Georgia, and Taylor Echols had 10.

Georgia failed for a second straight year to reach the Bulldogs' first final since 2008 when they won a tournament by beating Arkansas in a tournament rearranged by tornadoes that hit Atlanta.

But the Bulldogs - who played Saturday without injured starter Kenny Gaines - are expected to be in the NCAA Tournament.

"I'll tell you what I think," Fox said. "I think these team deserves to go. I think we have earned our way in. We respect that it is not our decision. We respect that the committee will do its due diligence in studying teams. But when you do that, I think that we have earned our right to be in there."





Bobby Portis had a season-low 4 points, but did get 12 rebounds.





Georgia's J.J Frazier and Arkansas' Anton Beard battle during Saturday's game





Rashad Madden fights for a basketball that got under him while being defeated by two Georgia players





Anthlon Bell had 10 points and defends Frazier in this match up


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