Auburn 92, Arkansas 83

Tay Waller's 29 points, Auburn's 60 percent shooting from the field and 33 trips to the free throw line ended up giving the Tigers a 92-83 win Saturday night over visiting Arkansas.

With four games to play, the SEC Western Division race is all deadlocked.

That's the situation after Tay Waller knocked down 7 3-pointers and poured in 29 points and Auburn shot 60 percent from the field to down visiting Arkansas 92-83 Saturday night.

Couple that with Mississippi State's 60-59 win over winless LSU and the Razorbacks (14-13, 7-5) and Bulldogs (19-8, 7-5) are tied with just a quartet of games left in the race.

"We're still in first place after tonight, but unfortunately now there is somebody there with us," noted Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey, whose team lost despite shooting 50 percent from the field.

Marshawn Powell had 23 points and 6 rebounds, Rotnei Clarke and Courtney Fortson 16 points each and Devlon Johnson all 10 of his career-high points in the second half.

But with DeWayne Reed adding 17 points, Lucas Hargrove 13, Brendon Knox and Frankie Sullivan 11, the Tigers (13-14, 4-8) simply just outscored the Razorbacks.

The Tigers knocked down 11 3-pointers as a team and connected on 25-of-33 free throws while Arkansas hit 11-of-15 from the charity line.

"We just weren't able to guard them very well," Pelphrey said. "They have 11 3s, 17 other field goals, 33 free throws. That's not very good defense on the road. They shot 60 percent for the game and we just have to be better in that area.

"Offensively we did some good things – 83 points, 14 assists, 14 turnovers and that's good enough to win. But each time we were able to get a little lead there we just couldn't hold on to it. They were very aggressive and hit a big shot someplace."

Pelphrey said he knew that Auburn was better than its record and this certainly was not a case of Arkansas not respecting its foe enough.

"There is no question about that," Pelphrey said. "We don't pay attention to records in this league and anybody else who does is foolish. They are good and they played very well tonight – made a lot of shots and got a lot of free throw attempts. We didn't play well enough. We competed very hard. We just have to do some things better."

Arkansas had won a couple of road games during its ascension to the top the West race, but has since dropped games at Alabama and Auburn despite battling back from first-half deficits to take the lead in the second half.

"The last two games on the road here, certainly our opponent has done well," Pelphrey said. "We've been very, very close, but we just haven't been able to close it."

Arkansas, which trailed by 9 in first half, tied the game 79-79 on Marcus Britt's basket rebound basket with exactly three minutes left in the game.

But Waller knocked down a jumper, Reed followed with one and Johnny Knox scored inside to give the hosts a 86-79 advantage.

The Razorbacks did not score again until there were 37 seconds left in the contest.

"Our whole basketball team played very well from an offensive side of it," Pelphrey said. "We did have 11 steals in the game so the defense wasn't totally non-existence, but just wasn't good enough at the right times on the road to get a win."

Powell was 10-of-16 from the field, foul-plagued Michael Washington 3-of-7 while scoring 9 points and Johnson 5 of 6.

"Our game plan coming into the game was to be able to get the ball inside and we did that," Pelphrey said. "…If you had told me that we would have got that production out of our front court I would have told you that we would have won the game."

Waller was on fire in opening half with 15 points on 5-of-6 shooting from beyond the 3-point arc.

He knocked down his first five in a half where the Tigers hit 7-of-11 3-pointers and also won the board 18-9.

Arkansas was balanced in its attack with Powell getting 10 points, Fortson 9, Clarke 8, Washington 7 and Britt 2.

It was Britt's 18-footer with 3 seconds left in the half that pulled the Razorbacks within 42-36 at intermission.

"We didn't think we played very well at all in the first half when we were down six," Pelphrey said. "But we just wanted to focus on the fundamentals offense and defense and we thought we would win this basketball game. We didn't make any changes. We just wanted to go do the game plan and do it better."

That's exactly what happen as Arkansas turned that nine-point, first-half deficit with 9:22 left in the game.

It was a stretch of four straight dunks or lay-ups for Johnson off great passes from his teammates.

There were six lead changes from that point on, but the Tigers closed out the game from the free throw line.

"As you find on the road when you get on the road, there are other good teams," Pelphrey said. "Certainly Auburn's got four seniors and those guys stepped up big."

Arkansas continues its two-game road swing with a trip to LSU on Wednesday night.

The Razorbacks finish with home games against Vanderbilt and Ole Miss sandwiched around a road trip to Tennessee.

Mississippi State hosts Alabama, visits South Carolina, goes to Auburn and host Tennessee in its final four games.

The Razorbacks whipped LSU 87-52 on Feb. 10 in Fayetteville.

"We talked about after that that there is not that much of a difference in the two basketball teams," Pelphrey said. "…They played very well against Mississippi State today…It will be anything but easy going down to Baton Rouge, but we have a couple of days to prepare and we will go down and try it again."

Hawgs Daily Top Stories