Auburn caught fire down the stretch to break on a game of lethargic offense to defeat Arkansas, 52-37, before 18,473 at Bud Walton Arena on Saturday afternoon.
The Hogs led, 22-21, at the half, and had several small leads in the second half. The Tigers broke free after the teams were tied at 32 with 7:38 to play. The Hogs struggled to score the rest of the way.
Derrick Bird led the Tigers with 11 points, and Marquis Daniels added 10. Both hit key 3-point shots in the closing minutes to help the Tigers pull away.
Kendrick Davis scored 11 to lead the Hogs. No one else scored more than 7 points.
Arkansas shot just 32.1 percent for the game, 24.1 in the second half. The Hogs committed 24 turnovers. Eric Ferguson, slowed with an ankle sprain sustained Wednesday at Alabama, had seven turnovers, six in the second half.
Arkansas coach Stan Heath, as has been his pattern, was patient with reporters as he tried to explain what has happened in the Hogs' 5-8 season, 0-2 in the SEC. Here's what he said in the media room after the loss to Auburn.
"This team takes a couple of strides forward and a couple back. I don't mean to take anything away from Auburn. Give them credit for causing some of our bad passes and poor shots, but we struggled on offense. We couldn't make a shot. We had open shots. I think we were pressing and it's hard to play that way.
"I think one of our big weaknesses is our passing. It affects so many things. Some of it will be turnovers, but also when you don't deliver the ball to someone in shooting position, it changes everything. Tonight ... and Auburn should get credit for some of this ... we seemed to dribble too much.
"We have seven days before our next game and we probably need some rest, but we are going to get right back in the gym. We'll practice Sunday. We don't have the luxury of taking time off. We have to get back in the gym and try to patchwork it together. This is the time of year where it ought to be coming together, but we are not.
"I'll have to get my psychologist hat out of the closet and try to pick these guys up. I'm down right now. I've not been through a losing season in a long time. It is frustrating.
"It's disappointing because we came home to a big crowd and I thought they would give us a lift and put us over the hump. It didn't happen.
"There was a period in the second half where we weren't making any shots. It was frustrating. We had some things we were trying to do and one of them was to get it down low and draw some fouls. We couldn't get it done.
"I think the big point in the game was when Derrick Bird hit a three. That gave them a lift and seemed to take the air out of our sails at the same time. We'd been hanging in there pretty good.
"There was also a critical point when Marquis Daniels got a backdoor and then a 3-point basket. Carl Baker did a great job on him for the most part, and I give him credit for that, but he lost him there. Carl is one of our best defensive players. My hat is off to him for what he's done the last two games, guarding two different players in (Mo) Williams and then Daniels. He stayed in front of Daniels and made it hard on him for the most part.
"Offensively, we really looked bad today. It was an ugly game. We have to weather the storm. I do know it's going to get better in time, but I don't know when that will be.
"It was an ugly basketball game. You have got to love the Hogs to watch that today.
"The style of game actually surprised me. I anticipated an open game because that's the way (Auburn) plays. But, it was a very physical game. I thought it was a fist fight around the basket. The refs came over and said they were going to call it close, but I didn't see that. We got only three free throws. All I can say is that I want to see the film and see what was there. Right now, I'll say, give Auburn credit for stopping us.
"I thought we were hurt when Alonzo Lane and Dionisio Gomez both got two early fouls, but we came back in the first half and got it going and got the lead at halftime. I thought we were okay there because we had played so poorly and were ahead. We've usually been able to make some adjustments and hit a decent percentage in the second half.
"We had trouble inside. Alonzo never established himself. The best way is to go right at Kyle Davis and that's what we wanted to do. But, they doubled the post and it looked like Alonzo was timid.
"We started Wenbos Mukubu. It was a coaches decision. Wenbos has done well in practice. I just thought the team needed a different direction. That's all I can say. He was okay for the time he was on the floor, and to his defense he didn't get much time.
"I'm not down on our guys. They tried hard. Talent? I don't know. We have a group that wants to win. We are not overly loaded with guys that can put 25 on the scorer's sheet. I will say that it's the first time in awhile that I have been associated with a team that is this poor on offense.
"Eric Ferguson was limited today. It's hard for us when he's not playing very well, and it was obvious that he struggled (with his ankle)."