For now, Arkansas is the Magnolia State champion.
Three nights removed from a win over Mississippi State, the Razorbacks held No. 18 Ole Miss to a season-worst shooting performance and upset the Rebels 80-73 at the Tad C. Smith Memorial Coliseum.
The win snapped a 15-game SEC road losing streak for Arkansas and was the first in Oxford since 2005.
"I'm very proud of our guys," Arkansas coach John Pelphrey said. "The last two games we've shown a little character and a little toughness. If we're not careful that might become contagious."
Arkansas (10-11, 3-3 SEC) overcame an 8-point deficit to beat the Rebels. The Razorbacks overcame a 12-point deficit to beat Mississippi State in Fayetteville on Thursday. Both teams were leading the SEC Western Division at the time of Arkansas' win and the Razorbacks are now just a half-game out of first place in the division.
Senior Mike Washington scored 22 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead Arkansas. Freshman forward Marshawn Powell added 19 points and a pair of blocks in the final 1:41 to help stave off the Rebels.
Rotnei Clarke scored 18 points for Arkansas and hit the go-ahead 3-pointer to give the Razorbacks a 74-71 lead with 3:08 to play. Arkansas held Ole Miss to just two points in the final three minutes, 53 seconds.
"We had a distinct advantage up front," Pelphrey said. "I thought in the second half Mike and Marshawn were terrific working together. Our guards need credit for getting it o them and Rot made a couple of big 3-point shots.
"We needed that performance. I think we had an advantage at those two spots down low. A lot of times you say it's a wash but those two played the way they needed to help us win."
Pelphrey also got crucial minutes from freshman point guard Julysses Nobles. The Jackson, Miss., native played 19 minutes in his first game back in front of the home state fans. He had just two points, two assists and two rebounds, but perhaps most importantly had no turnovers filling in for starting point guard Courtney Fortson, who picked up his fourth personal foul with 12:29 to go.
Fortson had scored 33 points in the second half of the Razorbacks' last game with Mississippi State.
"I was trying to play defense and do whatever it was to help my team win the game tonight," Nobles said. "I knew my chance was going to come and it came tonight.
"It makes me feel good knowing we beat both of the Mississippi teams this week. It's just great."
Also great was Arkansas' shooting performance. The Razorbacks hit a modest 25 of 52 shots from the floor, but went 23 of 27 from the free throw line on the night, including hitting all six of their free throws in the final minute.
It made up for a lack of rebounding, which remains the team's catalyst. Ole Miss outrebounded Arkansas 45-32, including 23 offensive rebounds.
"The area of concern is rebounding," Pelphrey said. "Ole Miss is good but we've got to find a way to rebound if we're going to improve as a basketball team. We've got to focus on that because it's a weakness of ours."
Ole Miss led Arkansas 39-34 at halftime but the Razorbacks came out of the locker rooms on fire. Powell scored eight points before the first media timeout and Arkansas used a 7-0 run early in the half to take a 47-45 lead.
From there the two teams went back-and-forth in a game that featured four ties and eight lead changes.
Ole Miss took its last lead on back-to-back 3-pointers from Terrico White and Chris Warren to take a 66-63 lead with 7:47 to play.
Arkansas battled back with an 8-2 run before Warren tied the game at 71-all with his third and final triple with 3:53 remaining.
Warren finished with 17 points for the Rebels (16-5, 4-3). Freshman forward Murphy Holloway had a career-night with 19 points and 17 rebounds off the bench in a losing effort.
The win for Arkansas comes just a week after the program suffered its worst conference loss ever in a 101-70 loss at Kentucky.
"I'm excited for our guys," Pelphrey said. "There were some loyal and passionate and loud Razorback fans here tonight. I'm so happy for them to see this and happy for the state of Arkansas."
The Razorbacks return to the court Wednesday night at Georgia.
Arkansas 80, No. 18 Ole Miss 73
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