Razorbacks Finally Break Through On Road

Finally

Dontell Jefferson made his second of two free throws and Marvin Moore couldn't get a shot off in the last 1.5 seconds to give Arkansas a 66-65 win against Ole Miss and snap its 13-game road losing streak in the Southeastern Conference before 5,474 in Tad Smith Coliseum.

After a series of close calls and late-game breakdowns all season, the Razorbacks (15-7, 3-6 SEC) would not be denied this time even after blowing an 11-point lead in the final eight minutes of the game.

Ole Miss (12-11, 3-7) used an 18-4 run to take a 62-59 lead after falling behind 55-44 with 8:51 to play, but Jonathon  Modica nailed two free throws and a high-bouncer over Todd Abernathy to put Arkansas ahead 65-64 with 39 seconds remaining.

Abernathy was fouled while driving for the game-winning field goal attempt with 16.6 seconds left, but the 76 percent foul shooter missed his second free throw after tying the score at 65.

With plenty of time to set up a play, Arkansas got a close look from Darian Townes, who was one off his career-high with 19 to lead the Razorbacks, but his shot came off the rim to Jefferson.

Jefferson was fouled by Moore on his stickback attempt, missed his first try off the back iron and calmly sank his second free throw to provide the winning margin.

"We really needed something like this to happen," said Arkansas coach Stan Heath. "I would have liked to see a game where we have an 11-point lead to extend it and play smarter, but I could tell we were losing a little gas in that last stretch.

"It was good to see us find something a little deeper inside and make plays."

Arkansas swept the season series and won at Ole Miss for the first time since a 63-62 win in Oxford in 1996. The Razorbacks will take the confidence from their biggest win of the season into home games next week against Georgia and LSU.

"This is a big win for us," said Jefferson, a junior college transfer who struggled since SEC play began and again Saturday before his final hustle play made the difference in the game.

"We had our adversity and we wanted to make sure we didn't go home with a loss. It gives us a lot of confidence with Georgia and LSU coming up."

Arkansas sophomore Ronnie Brewer added 14 points and a team-high 7 rebounds and Modica scored 13 on 4 of 9 shooting in his first start since Dec. 4.

Modica was a steady presence feeding Townes inside and finished with a game- and career-high 7 assists against 2 turnovers.

It was Brewer locating Modica on the baseline against the shorter Abernathy with a bullet pass from the opposite wing that set up the go-ahead basket with less than 40 seconds to play.

"Woooo," Modica said about Brewer's feed. "I was nervous. I was like, ‘Oh my God.' When I came up with it, I knew it was good once I had it in my hand.

"I knew it was good."

Every Razorback that played scored and everyone grabbed at least two rebounds except Steven Hill, who was plagued by quick whistles in a way he hasn't been since the exhibition season and played just 5 minutes.

The Razorbacks shot 42.3 percent from the field (22 of 52) and were better than 70 percent from the foul line (17 of 24) for the third straight game.

Jefferson's last rebound gave Arkansas a 32-31 edge on the glass and while Ole Miss shot 51.1 percent (24 of 47) from the field, the Rebels were 15 of 28 from the foul line and committed 15 turnovers to Arkansas' 13.

"A lot of heroes in that locker room," Heath said. "I'm really proud of the guys. It's a stepping stone. It's been a process. First you have to get the players in the program and then you have to learn how to win.

"This was very special for us."

Ole Miss center Tommie Eddie wasn't a factor in Arkansas' 69-46 win against Ole Miss on Jan. 5 since he was left in Oxford while an academic matter was cleared up, and he wasn't again Saturday in 10 minutes of action after getting in early foul trouble in both halves.

Eddie finished with 4 points and 2 rebounds, well below his season averages of 12.1 and 4.5, but senior Marvin Moore picked up the slack with 22 points and 8 rebounds to lead the Rebels.

"I was real ready to play against them," Townes said. "I think Ole Miss was saying, ‘Oh, the reason Arkansas beat us was because we didn't have Tommie Eddie.' Tommie Eddie was playing and we went right at him from the beginning.

"We got him in foul trouble and that was just one power punch for them we knocked out of the way. We controlled the inside even though he was playing. I didn't see a big difference."

Everyone could see the difference in Arkansas after its poor showing at South Carolina in the Hogs' 64-52 loss on Wednesday.

The Razorbacks played with intensity and emotion -- and together -- for the longest stretch of any road game this season and it paid off with the little things Arkansas did to win the game.

Even the late foul call against Moore on Jefferson left Heath in the unusual position of defending the officials. Heath criticized the officiating after Arkansas' 80-55 loss to Mississippi State on Jan. 15 and was publicly reprimanded by the SEC after his comments following the Hogs' 66-63 overtime loss to LSU.

Ole Miss coach Rod Barnes told the officials he was disappointed the outcome was decided in the manner it was.

"The game shouldn't end like that," Barnes said. "Let the kids decide it. Let's go to overtime."

Heath, whose team was called for four fouls on one possession in the second half, said he expected a call on Townes' attempt.

"I was surprised Townes didn't get the call," Heath said. "It (Moore's foul on Jefferson) had to be called."

"Everyone gave it their all and played as a team," Brewer said. "Modica stepped up, Dontell stepped up, Darian stepped u.

"A lot of guys picked up their game today."

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