Key Second-Half Stretch The Difference

FAYETTEVILLE — On the other end of the O'Connell Center court, Patrick Beverley's 3-pointer had just given Arkansas its first lead. The Razorbacks had just silenced the raucous sellout crowd Tuesday night, putting a scare into No. 2 Florida.

All the Hogs needed — up 54-53 with 10 minutes, 30 seconds left — was one more momentum-boosting spurt and an upset could've materialized. But it took four more minutes for Arkansas to score again, and that dearly cost the Razorbacks in their 79-72 loss. "We had a chance right there to win the game," Razorbacks point guard Gary Ervin said. "We could feel it. We just couldn't get it done, though." The Razorbacks' sputtering start, in which they missed their first eight shots, surely didn't help their cause. But the four-minute sequence after Beverley's 3-pointer hurt even worse. Arkansas' next six possessions consisted of: • Ervin recording a steal but missing a fast-break layup he said he "should've made." • Vincent Hunter misfiring on a 3-pointer, and Darian Townes missing a 5-foot hook shot after grabbing an offensive rebound. • Charles Thomas clanking the front end of a 1-and-1. • Patrick Beverley failing to drain a wide-open 3-point attempt. • Townes missing a 6-foot jumper. • Steven Hill throwing a pass intended for Thomas out of bounds. After the defeat that dropped Arkansas to 12-4 overall and 1-1 in the SEC, coach Stan Heath couldn't vividly recall the crucial string of possesssions. Heath said he'd have to review the tape first to determine whether he was pleased with his players' choices on those half-dozen possessions. Townes didn't need a refresher. He said that period resembled some other moments of the game, when Arkansas was just a split-second slower than Florida. For example, after Ervin's missed layup, Florida's Joakim Noah missed two consecutive close shots. When it appeared that Beverley or Hunter would come down with the second rebound, Townes darted up court and left Lee Humphrey unguarded near the basket. But the ball awkwardly bounced to Noah, and he hit Humphrey for a 12-footer that put Florida up 55-54. "There were a lot of little things we didn't accomplish," Townes said. "We didn't get a lot of loose balls and long rebounds. We didn't finish around the basket. We took bad bad shots. "Florida's a good team, and you can't do those things." Despite those struggles, Arkansas had ample chances to win Tuesday night, even after coming up empty after those six possessions. Hill's dunk closed Florida's lead to 59-56 with 6:30 remaining. But Florida guards Taurean Green and Lee Humphrey then drained consecutive 3-pointers to boost Florida's lead to nine points. Arkansas didn't have enough time left to rally. Though both Ervin and Townes stressed the Hogs don't believe in moral victories, Townes said the respectable showing did nothing to hurt Arkansas' ever-rising confidence. "It's just showing how good a team we are," Townes said. "We're still young, and we're still having trouble with certain things, but ... we can't let this loss hurt us for the next game."

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