Arkansas Does It Again

AUBURN, Ala. -- Stop if this sounds familiar.

Arkansas gave away a lead with a prolonged scoring drought -- again.

Arkansas struggled against zone defense -- again.

Arkansas lost on the road -- again.

The Razorbacks closed their regular season in embarrassing fashion by allowing Southeastern Conference whipping boy Auburn to outscore them 21-0 over a 10:42 span between the first and second halves and lost on the Tigers' Senior Day 77-64 before 4,134 on Saturday in Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum.

Arkansas (18-11, 6-10 Southeastern Conference) committed a season-high 24 turnovers and Auburn (13-16, 4-12) capitalized with 28 points off the mistakes.

"Their players stepped up and wanted the game more than we did," said Arkansas coach Stan Heath, who fell to 2-22 in three seasons on the road in the SEC. "They outplayed us. They outhustled us. They outworked us.

"I accept responsibility that my team just wasn't ready to play at the level they should have on the road on the last day."

The Tigers shot 46.7 percent to the Razorbacks' 40.7 and Auburn's five-guard lineup played the Hogs within 35-34 in the rebounding column.

It was as gratifying a win for Auburn first-year coach Jeff Lebo as it was grating for Heath, who had his team foul repeatedly in the closing two minutes even while down 14.

"This team gave it everything they had this season," Lebo said. "They never pointed fingers at each other. They just went out and played hard every night and did everything they were asked to do. I could not have asked anything more of these kids."

Auburn 6-foot-6 senior Quinnel Brown, the tallest Tiger on the floor, shot 8 of 8 -- all from the low block and in -- and grabbed 8 rebounds to go with his 21 points to lead the Tigers.

Freshman Toney Douglas added 18 and senior Nathan Watson chipped in 15 for the Tigers. Douglas is 6-1 and Watson is 6-3 but the two had 7 and 8 rebounds, respectively, as many or more than any Arkansas player except freshman center Darian Townes.

Townes had his second double-double of the season with 18 points and 10 rebounds, sophomore Ronnie Brewer had 16 and no other Razorback scratched double figures.

"You got to execute and we didn't execute like we should," said Brewer, who shot 5 of 13 and had 3 turnovers to 2 assists. "It's real frustrating. We're disappointed. It's our last game. It's (senior) Mike Jones' last regular season game.

"I could have played a lot better."

Arkansas led 27-23 with 4:07 to play in the first half after an Olu Famutimi 3-pointer but didn't score again until the 13:25 mark of the second half when Eric  Ferguson negated Arkansas' 16th turnover with a steal and a layup to make it 44-29 Auburn, drawing a sarcastic cheer from a dwindling group of fans who have had little to be cocky about this season.

The Razorbacks committed nine turnovers during the scoreless stretch while Auburn applied three-quarter court pressure after made baskets and merged from its pressure into the 2-3 zone that has so befuddled Arkansas for most of the last nine games.

"We hit our shots and it made Arkansas have to slow down their offense," said Auburn senior Ian Young. "They like to get out and run the fast break all the time. Because of the shots we made, we were able to keep them in a halfcourt game."

Arkansas had nearly every kind of turnover possible with lost balls, bad passes and three-second and shot-clock violations.

"We turned it over way too much," Heath said. "I thought we'd be plus-five, plus-10 on rebounds. But they got into our legs. They were physical with us.

"The turnovers were the biggest thing. We were playing pretty good and went into a drought and it continued into the second half. That's when the game was decided.

"You can't go 10 minutes without scoring and beat anybody."

Auburn took away Arkansas' size advantage by smothering Townes with double teams on the block, repeatedly knocking away entry passes and slapping the ball out of his hands.

Townes had 4 turnovers and junior Jonathon  Modica, making his first start since the Vanderbilt game Feb. 19, had 5 turnovers mostly trying to get the ball inside to Townes.

Arkansas couldn't hit its 3-pointers in the second half after going 4 of 9 in the first. The Razorbacks finished 8 of 26 (30.8 percent) from outside.

The Hogs missed three 3-pointers to open the second half and followed those up with three straight turnovers on a missed hookup between Brewer and Townes, a three-second call on Townes and an offensive foul on Rashard Sullivan.

Young, who missed his first two 3-point attempts badly but hit consecutive triples to bring Auburn from down one to up five late in the first half, made his third bomb of the game to put the Tigers ahead 36-27 on a fast-break jumper.

Brown scored five straight points and Douglas hit another 3-pointer to cap Auburn's 12-0 run to start the second half.

Arkansas cut it to an eight-point lead after getting down by as many as 18 at 53-45 on a Dontell Jefferson dunk, but Auburn continued to answer.

Brown took Famutimi off the dribble and scored, Watson stole a rebound from Townes and scored and Douglas answered a Ferguson turnover with a layup to push the lead right back to 60-47.

"Guys were trying so hard to make the one big play to turn it around," said Jones, who went 1 of 6 in his first start since a groin injury Jan. 29 against Kentucky. "But it wasn't going for us. We didn't put as much effort in as we could. I think we're trying, but we're not trying hard enough."

That was clear to Heath on the defensive end, where his team was repeatedly picked off on the baseline to allow Brown to get good looks at the basket, and on the glass where the smaller Tigers actually outmanned Arkansas.

"We've defended outstanding against Mississippi State, but I didn't see the carryover to this game," Heath said. "Why? I have no answer for that.

"We didn't fight as hard as we should have fought."

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