Arkansas 77, Auburn 71

Ricky Scott has 22 points and Brandon Mitchell adds some punch off the bench as Arkansas downs Auburn 77-71 Saturday to win for the first time on the road this season.

Auburn, Ala. - Rickey Scott scored 22 points and Arkansas picked up its first road win in nine tries this season, beating Auburn 77-71 on Saturday.

Mardracus Wade added 18 points for the Razorbacks (18-11, 6-8 Southeastern Conference), who trailed by as many as 17 points in the first half.

"First, my hat's off to Auburn," Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson said. "I tell you what, they came out and threw a mighty punch at us early on. They were making shots from all over the place. I think they were like 5-of-6 from 3-point land. I mean, contested shots. We were down early, but the thing I like about our team, they wouldn't go away."

B.J. Young and Brandon Mitchell each scored 10 and Mitchell addd 6 rebounds and 3 assists.

"I thought Brandon (Mitchell) probably played the best game he's played thus far," Anderson said. "The thing I like about our team was, Auburn's a very physical basketball team, and we matched their physicalness, and I think that enabled us to really hang in there and just hang around and be in position to have a chance to win the game."

Anderson praised what Mitchell - the football team's back-up quarterback - brought to the floor on Saturday.

"I think the great thing about that is he's been playing basketball all his life," Anderson said. "It's different when guys haven't been playing basketball. If you ask him, he'd probably say his first love is basketball.

"Football is what pays the bills right now, but I think he's one of these guys that will probably sneak into the rec. gym when he shouldn't be, and he's playing basketball,"Anderson added. " Coach (Bobby) Petrino probably shouldn't hear that right? But I just think he has a good basketball IQ, and you can just tell that as you listen to him. He has a good basketball understanding."

Mitchell was pleased to help out and get the team the road win.

"It feels great," Mitchell said. "It is something I have been telling the players. I don't care how many points I score, I just want to get in and do the nasty work and make sure we come out with a win, whatever it takes."

Scott said Mitchell was showing off his leadership skills.

"He definitely stepped up," Scott said. "I was surprised myself when he was huddling us up like that, but he is used to it as well. He has done it once before. I don't think we really listened to him back then, but now I definitely am going to listen to him."

Mitchell said he was just trying to bring everybody together.

"I think we came together as a team," Mitchell said. "We tried to huddle up every dead ball and just kept the communication going. We just wanted to be out there, one family, one heartbeat."

Getting over the hump on the road was big according to Anderson, who said winning in his home state didn't make it any more special.

"I think we've had some opportunities to win some games," Anderson said. "We didn't close them. We didn't finish. We didn't play for the full 40 minutes. We had some adversity take place, so for me more than anything else, to see our guys kind of follow through, to get over that hump, so to speak, that to me is more exciting.

"I'm not into the personal stuff. I'm more in for our guys because they worked extremely hard, and for them to actually finish off a game in the fashion that they did, I'm more proud of them," Anderson said. "Hopefully it's a sign of more things to come for our basketball program. We grew up today."

Scott said the team stuck together through what had obviously been a tough year on the road. It was the Razorbacks' first road win since last season in the same gym on Feb. 26.

"Definitely there was no adversity," Scott said. "Nobody was fighting after the last road games. We all stayed as one."

Allen Payne and Frankie Sullivan each had 15 points for Auburn (14-14, 4-10). Kenny Gabriel scored 14 points and Rob Chubb added 11.

"They shot 58 percent in the second half," said Auburn head coach Tony Barbee. "I think it says we gave them a lot of confidence. We had them on the ropes. We just don't have the team here yet to put that kind of team away. We gave them confidence based on how we performed when we got up 17."

The Tigers shot 54.2 percent (13 of 24) from the line - a deficiency that was costly down the stretch after Arkansas retook the lead late.

"We are still playing for postseason," Barbee said. "When we show as little fight, heart and desire as we did in the last 20 minutes, it is embarrassing."

Arkansas did make its free throws - going 18-of-23 and closing the game out at the line.

"Obviously, the things we haven't been doing on the road down the stretch, you have to make plays whether it be offensively or defensively," Anderson said. "I thought today we did those things. Like making free throws. We made free throws at critical times. We got stops at critical times. We rebounded the basketball at critical times, and that's what you have to do in order to win on the road."

Auburn played without guards Varez Ward and Chris Denson, the team's third and fourth leading scorers.

Ward and Denson, who injured his knee against Florida on Tuesday, were both not on the bench for the game.

Barbee said after the game both players are suspended indefinitely for a violation of team rules.

After trailing by double figures for most of the first half, Arkansas cut the Auburn lead to 41-37 on a 3-pointer from Wade with 19:41 left to play.

The Tigers responded with eight straight points over the next 1:54, pulling ahead with a 49-37 advantage on a Chubb runner in the lane with 17:20 left.

Arkansas answered right back with a 16-5 run, closing the gap to 54-53 at the 11:31 mark on a jumper by Julysses Nobles, his first basket of the game.

Nobles struck again, from 3-point range, to give Arkansas the lead at 63-62 with 5:52 to go. It was the Razorbacks' first lead since 5-4 at the 18:35 mark of the first half.

The teams traded the lead four times over the next four minutes, until Young hit a runner in the lane to put Arkansas up 71-70 with 2:05 remaining.

Young, who scored 52 points in the two previous games, was quiet for most of the game until scoring six straight points to vault Arkansas into the lead.

Auburn had four chances from the free throw line to cut into the Razorbacks lead down the stretch but hit only one, and Arkansas closed out the game.

Auburn spread the ball around early, with all five of its starters hitting a shot in the first 3:52.

Gabriel scored five straight points - on a deep 3-pointer and a breakaway layup off a turnover - to polish off a 19-4 run over 5:21 that built the Tigers' lead to 21-9 with 12:14 left in the first half.

The Tigers hit 14 of their first 20 shots, including 5-of-8 from beyond the arc, extending their lead to 35-18 on a Sullivan layup at the 6:55 mark before Arkansas could start cutting into the deficit.

The Razorbacks closed the half on a 16-6 run, with 14 of their 16 points coming from Scott or Wade, to go into the break trailing 41-34.

Scott scored 18 in the first half on 7-of-9 shooting, and Wade added 10.

"I liked the way that we didn't go away," Anderson said. "I thought that Rickey Scott carried us for a while in the first half."


Inside The AU Tigers Top Stories