South Carolina 82, Arkansas 78 (OT)

Arkansas had a chance at the game winner in regulation, but fell short in the final minute of overtime at Columbia, S.C. Jason Henry exploded for 27 points to pace the Hogs.

Arkansas got the final shot in regulation, but Courtney Fortson was denied in the lane. South Carolina broke a tie in the final minute of overtime, then pulled away with deadly foul shooting to remain unbeaten at home, 82-78.

Freshman forward Jason Henry poured in 27 points and 12 rebounds to pace the Razorbacks.

The Hogs fell to 1-11 in SEC play with their 11th straight SEC road loss over the last two years.

"There's going to come a point and time where we start walking out of the arena and people will be proud of these kids for winning basketball games," Arkansas coach John Pelphrey said. "I'm tired of people telling us how hard we play because we lost. It's not going to be much longer."

Pelphrey praised the play of Henry, battling back after knee surgery during the Christmas holidays.

"I thought Jason Henry played as good a game as he has since he's been here. He played under control, read defense, faced up and attacked, finished the ball around the basket. Certainly he does a good job rebounding. He has a knack for getting to the basketball.

"He's an all-league talent. There are some things he needs to do for us before that talent shows up. He's making progress as a human being, small strides as a student and small strides as a basketball player, too. We'll see how he reacts Monday when he gets back to practice."

Rotnei Clarke added 14 points for the Hogs. He was 4 of 8 on 3-pointers. He played 42 minutes. Fortson added 12 points, 8 rebounds. Fortson was 5 of 6 shooting, but had 10 turnovers. Fortson missed some time because of an ankle sprain in the first half. Michael Washington scored 10 points with 11 rebounds.

Arkansas controlled the glass. The Hogs led 42-29 in rebounds. However, the Hogs committed 25 turnovers.

Clarke nailed three 3-pointers in a little over two minutes to rally the Hogs in regulation. South Carolina led by as many as 11 in the first half and by 41-33 with 15 minutes to play before Clarke warmed.

Clarke's 3-point streak carried the Hogs to a 44-41 lead with 10 minutes to play. The Hogs were still up, 50-46, on three straight buckets by Marcus Britt.

Henry carried the Hogs in the final four minutes, including three straight baskets. The Hogs led, 66-64, with 53 seconds left in regulation when Fortson rebounded a Clarke miss. South Carolina tied it on a rebound basket by Corey Muldrew.

The Hogs then cleared the lane for a Fortson drive with six seconds to play. Fortson missed and went down after contact on the UA chance at the game winner.

Clarke's 18-footer was the first basket of overtime and it was tied at 74 on Henry's rebound basket with just over one minute to play.

South Carolina held the upper hand the rest of the way. Henry hit a three-pointer with three seconds to play to close it to 78-77. But South Carolina continued to nail foul shots to clinch the victory. The Gamecocks made six of six frrom the foul line in the final minute.

The Hogs' final chance at the lead came when Clarke missed a three with the game tied at 74. Clarke put his hand to his eye after the play, possibly from a foul.

"I hurt for our kids," Pelphrey said. "As a coach I wish there was something I could do about it.

"We're going to overcome this and the Razorbacks are going to rise again.

"Bottom line, we aren't making any excuses. We are where we are because of us. When these young men decide enough is enough, we'll start getting through those (tough) situations.

"We're not into moral victories, but I do like how our basketball team shows up and they do compete.

"There were a couple of big calls in regulation that didn't go our way and one in overtime. The bottom line is we aren't making excuses. We are where we are because of us. We did play well in a tough environment."

Jason Henry drives against South Carolina.

Courtney Fortson works under the basket.

Rotnei Clarke looks for an opening.

Photos by Marc F. Henning

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