Arkansas played a dangerous game of Survivor on Saturday afternoon during the Big 12/SEC Challenge, but somehow never ended up getting kicked off the island.
Dusty Hannahs had 21 of his 25 points against his old team in the first half and Moses Kingsley had all 17 of his points and all 11 of this rebounds after intermission as the Razorbacks downed Texas Tech 75-68 in overtime before 13,751 fans at Bud Walton Arena.
Arkansas (11-10) rallied from 12 points down in the first half, led by 11 and then found itself behind five points in the second half and survived a missed layup near the regulation buzzer by Red Raider senior guard Devaugntah Williams.
“We found a way to win,” Razorback head coach Mike Anderson said. “Our fans were unbelievable. To me that’s the bonus of playing at home. You have 8 to 10 points and we needed very bit of it of tonight.
“Glad to see our guys get to the free throw line and knock free throws down, clutch free throws going down the stretch.”
Texas Tech head coach Tubby Smith could not believe his team let a win get away on a day when former Arkansas signee and Little Rock Parkview star Aaron Ross had 14 points and 9 rebounds.
Zach Smith had 19 points to lead the Red Raiders (12-8).
“It was a hard-fought game,” Smith said. “We had our chances. We didn't execute and didn't get the stops we needed. MA and his staff, their team did a great job and made the plays they had to make to get the win.”
Smith felt good about the look his team got at the end of regulation, but not the result.
“He missed it,” Smith said. “He missed a layup. It is what it is. We've had that problem most of the year.
“I wanted them to do what we tell them to do, like pick the ball up and don't try to dribble it. Like box out and rebound. Guard the three. Like they've been taught. That's what I wanted them to do.”
Arkansas trailed 16-4 early, but a few minutes later Hannahs would reel off 19 of his team’s next 22 points and Anthlon Bell dropped in a 3-pointer to surge the Razorbacks ahead 29-28 by halftime.
“He basically was carrying us,” Anderson said. “He had 21 in the first half and we had 29 points. That’s kind of carrying us I think. But thank goodness other guys stepped up in the second half and played.
“You know there is going to be emotion. But emotion can only take you so far. He wanted to win in a bad way and he was able to help us get back in it. He made some tough shots getting to the basket.
“He was 8 for 8 from the free throw line. You want something so bad and for the most part the first half went his way."
Hannahs tried to play off going against his former team.
“A win is a win and that was a win against a really well-coached and balanced basketball team,” Hannahs said. “We were in a pickle late down five and it is a testament to these close games we’ve had and I think it has taught us our lesson how to finish.”
He did admit it was nice to take down both No. 5 Texas A&M and Texas Tech at home this week before heading to play at Florida on Wednesday night.
“I mean you are playing your old school and any of y’all would know that if you played your old middle school, but it was just another game and I just wanted to win and beat Texas A&M and then Tech,” Hannahs said.
“That’s my biggest pride of this is that we have two wins in a row and we are going to Gainesville with some confidence.”
Hannahs was 0-of-7 from the field in the second half after going 7-of-10 before halftime.
“They were doing a great job of finding me,” Hannahs said of his spree. “ I just kept cutting through and back curls and screens. I probably got 8 or 10 points just off cuts and layups.
“That's just a testament to my teammates and being able to get the ball in situations to score. So I just tried to be aggressive the whole game and it worked out.”
So was Kingsley in the second half after not having a point or rebound and picking up two personal fouls in the first half.
“I guess I could say that I wasn’t giving the effort in the first half,” Kingsley said, “and they had the defense where if I caught the ball there was a big man waiting on me on the help side and so it was like two people playing me so I just tried to kick the ball out every time.
“They also went zone which effected us a little bit, but we had shooters that didn’t make a lot, but that last point (of the first half) was huge and that kind of opened the middle and they could throw the ball in and I could it on top and stuff.
“And then I could get on the offensive board and get us some buckets, too.”
Anderson was pleased with how Kingsley played after the break.
“Not many games are you going to have Moses Kingsley go through a half and he is a zero-zero guy,” Anderson said. “But it shows you the capability of the guy.
“He gets a double-double in the second half and overtime. It just seems he came to life and that’s huge for our team because people are really spreading out an guarding our perimeter guys.”
Ross did the same after having just one point and three rebounds before half, but ending up just a rebound shy of his own double-double in his return to the state.
“I talked to him during the game,” Hannahs said. “I was telling him when he was at the line to miss his free throws. That's one of my best friends. That was a really cool experience. He was my roommate both of my years at Tech and that's who I kind of went with to Tech.
“Just playing against him and him doing well like that. Obviously I say that after a win. I would have hated it if he had done well and we had lost. It's good to see a guy that has preserved through injury to come out and play well."
Arkansas also got a plus performance from sophomore forward Trey Thompson, who had a career-high 9 rebounds to go along with 3 points.
"The first thing I told Trey, 'One thing about you man, you use all your fouls. You don't take any with you,'" Anderson said. "But he plays like a warrior. His basketball IQ, you can see it game in and game out.
"This guy gets more out of just making assists or blocking a shot, getting a rebound than any guy on our basketball team. He's one of those guys that fixes things out there on the floor. We're seeing him just continue to grow and impact this team."
Former Little Rock Parkview star and Arkansas signee Aaron Ross scores two of his 14 points for Texas Tech.
Arkansas center Moses Kingsley looks to get around Ross.
The crowd of 13,751 was the second largest crowd of the season at Bud Walton Arena.