No. 2 Texas 96, Arkansas 85 (Final)
Arkansas got close, pulling within two points twice, but Texas was the better closer, outscoring the Hogs 10-1 in the final 1:50 to pull out another win.
It's Arkansas' third consecutive loss and the Hogs fall to 7-8 on the season. Texas improves to 14-0.
Even in loss, you've got to love the Razorbacks' effort tonight. Courtney Fortson's 19 points and seven assists certainly added a lot to the product and it'll be interesting to see how Arkansas responds with a 9-day layoff upcoming. They'll return at Mississippi State on Jan. 14.
Clarke scored a game-high 24 points for Arkansas. Powell had 18 points and Washington scored 14 in limited action because of fouls. One has to wonder how the game might have been different if he pays more than he did.
Pittman finished with 21 points for the Longhorns but Arkansas shut him down late and he was really a non-factor in the final eight minutes. Damien James was a factor with 20 points, despite four fouls. He scored two crucial baskets late that kept Arkansas at-bay.
We'll have more in a bit.
No. 2 Texas 84, Arkansas 76 (3:56 second half)
Texas used a 12-4 run to build a 10-point lead at 84-74 and leads by eight at the final media timeout.
If Arkansas loses, you still have to like the way they played tonight. It was certainly the best we've seen this season. That said, the Hogs still have a chance. Arkansas is playing better defense after the initial onslaught in the second half, but offensive rebounds have been a killer. Texas has 21 second-chance points and has out-rebounded Arkansas 38-24 tonight.
No. 2 Texas 75, Arkansas 70 (7:49 second half)
Arkansas used a 9-2 run to pull within two, but Gary Johnson's basket and foul heading into the break has given Texas a four-point lead.
Both Washington and Damien James have four fouls for their respective teams, while Marshawn Powell has three fouls for Arkansas and Dogus Balbay and Alexis Wangmene each have three for the Longhorns.
Arkansas' zone defense has really collapsed on Pittman the last few minutes with a lot of deflected balls when it goes into the paint. Pittman leads Texas with 19 points while Clarke leads all scorers with 21.
No. 2 Texas 70, Arkansas 61 (11:42 second half)
Dexter Pittman has hit 9 of 13 shots tonight and has 19 points to lead the Longhorns. He's certainly been the difference in this half as the Hogs have no one to match his size or strength on the inside.
As a team Texas hit 9 of its first 11 shots in this half while Arkansas is just 3 of 7 from the floor.
Clarke's 3 put a little bit of energy into the crowd but the Hogs have to find some inside play and cut down the turnovers to get back in it. Arkansas has four turnovers already after halftime after recording just three in the first half.
No. 2 Texas 61, Arkansas 52 (15:21 second half)
Texas has opened the second half on a 13-4 run. Arkansas missed its first four field goal attempts of the half and has turned the ball over twice.
Dexter Pittman is tough to stop for Arkansas. The Razorbacks have to go at him a little more on the offensive end. He is as fresh as can be on offense and has scored seven points already in this half. He has 17 for the game.
Arkansas 48, No. 2 Texas 48 (Halftime)
Clarke's fadeaway jumper with 20 seconds left in the half tied the game and that's where we stand at halftime.
Make no mistake about it, Fortson has added a different dimension to this basketball team. He has 10 points and a pair of assists at halftime, but it has been his ability to penetrate into the lane that has opened things up for the likes of Clarke (16 points) and Powell (12) in the first frame. And this all came with Mike Washington sitting on the bench with two fouls.
Kudos to Delvon Johnson, who has played his best game of the season in Washington's absence. He has six points, three rebounds and a block at the break. He has been a huge key in keeping close through 20 minutes.
Two things to watch in the second half:
1. Can Fortson sustain this play for 40 minutes? He has came off the floor breathing heavily twice in the first half. If he can, you've got to give the Hogs a fighter's chance in the end.
2. How does the game become called? Fans are unhappy with what appeared a series of no-calls on both ends late in the half and the officials left the floor to a chorus of boos. A tightly called game might benefit the Longhorns, who have a deeper bench.
No. 2 Texas 40, Arkansas 39 (3:47 first half)
Texas used a 7-0 run of its own to take a lead but Arkansas is holding tight.
Clarke (12) and Powell (10) are in double figures for the Razorbacks and Fortson has added seven points. The problem is Arkansas isn't getting much production elsewhere. Washington went out with his second foul at about the 11-minute mark and it appears he won't return until the second half.
Arkansas has held the Longhorns' studs intact despite all that with James and Dexter Pittman each scoring eight points. If the Hogs can avoid one of these late half collapses we've come accustomed to it should set up an interesting second half.
Arkansas 35, No. 2 Texas 31 (7:29 first half)
Arkansas used a 7-0 run to take a six-point lead and is up four now on Texas.
The run was sparked by a 3-pointer from Fortson (7 points), a basket from Clarke (12 points) and a putback from Delvon Johnson (4 points).
Arkansas has hit 13-of-23 shots from the field thus far and is holding its own despite Mike Washington sitting with two fouls.
Arkansas 24, No. 2 Texas 24 (10:32 first half)
Rotnei Clarke and Powell have been the big stories thus far with 10 and 8 points, respectively, but Fortson has certainly added a different gear to the Arkansas offense. He has four points and an assist for the Hogs early on in a tied contest.
Avery Bradley and Damien James both have five points for the Longhorns.
Arkansas 10, No. 2 Texas 10 (15:42 first half)
That Courtney Fortson guy is a sparkplug. The Hogs are playing with a different pep in their step the first few minutes thanks in large part to their point guard.
Marshawn Powell scored the first seven points, including a three-point play that gave Arkansas a brief lead at 7-6.
Arkansas point guard Courtney Fortson will return Tuesday night against Texas. The sophomore has missed all 14 games with an indefinite suspension prior to tonight.
"We are pleased that Courtney has done the things necessary for him to incorporate basketball fully back into his life," Arkansas coach John Pelphrey said in a release through the University of Arkansas media relations department. "In the past few months, Courtney has worked hard to address personal issues and meet objectives to facilitate his return to active competition. Our primary focus with Courtney, and all of our student-athletes, is to assist them in realizing their full potential as individuals. This includes developing them athletically, academically and socially. We will continue to provide all of our student-athletes the support and appropriate resources to assist them in that process. All of our student-athletes will continue to be expected to represent the University of Arkansas with integrity. As with all Razorback student-athletes, Courtney must continue to meet the expectations of our athletic department to remain a member of the Razorback program."
Fortson averaged 14.8 points, 5.5 rebounds and an SEC-leading 5.9 assists per game as a freshman, and recorded just the second triple-double in school history.
The Longhorns (13-0) are ranked No. 2 nationally. Arkansas beat then-No. 7 Texas last season here by a score of 67-61. The Hogs are just 9-22 since that time.
No. 2 Texas 96, Arkansas 85 (Blog)
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