One night after the Razorback football program snatched one of the Gators' prized tailback prospects away, the Arkansas basketball program put a big-time blemish on Florida's unbeaten SEC mark.
B.J. Young had 13 points and five assists to lead a balanced attack as the Razorbacks came out sizzling, went up by 23 in the opening half and went on to crush the Gators 80-69 at Bud Walton Arena in a game that was not as close as the final score would appear.
Arkansas (14-8, 5-4) – which led 36-13 in the first half and 70-48 after intermission – ended a ten-game winning streak that Florida (18-3, 10-1) had been riding.
"This was a total team win against a great basketball team," Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson said. "Our bench played outstanding. Our defense took them out of what they wanted to do. We were excellent at rebounding. We made shots and did a good job attacking and moving the ball."
"We were just focused," Powell said. "The level of concentration and focus in the locker room was unbelievable. Coach didn't even have to do his usual pep up talk. We were already ready. It was a big game, and we came to play and we got the W."
The win was also the first over a top 10 team since the Razorbacks downed both No. 4 Oklahoma (with Blake Griffin) and No. 7 Texas when current Florida assistant John Pelphrey was the Arkansas head coach back in 2008-2009.
Arkansas certainly got a lift from its crowd and a bench – led by Young – that outscored Florida's reserves 40-12.
"If I gave two game balls tonight, one would certainly go to our fans," said Anderson, once an assistant for Razorback head coach Nolan Richardson back in the glory days. "I thought this place was lively tonight. It brought back a lot of memories for myself. Especially sitting on that bench and just seeing our fans so engaged in the game.
"Then the second ball goes to our bench," Anderson said. "I thought our bench played outstanding basketball. The guys that started off set the tone. This was a total team win."
Arkansas hit 10 of its first 12 shots and 12 of its initial 15 attempts on a night when he Razorbacks shot 49.1 percent – a season-high for a Florida foe.
Gators head coach Billy Donovan – whose team had not given up more than 66 points this season and had not trailed by more than 11 at any points during this campaign – praised Anderson and his Arkansas squad.
"They shot the ball very, very well," Donovan said. "For me coming into the game that was a concern. I know the stat shows in the league they are shooting 24 percent (from 3-point range) but give Mike a lot of credit. I am sure Mike instilled confidence in those guys. It's always hard when you have a team not shooting the ball particularly well that it starts weighing on everybody.
"I am sure Mike instilled confidence in them to just keep shooting the ball," Donovan added. "I thought we did a poor job of letting them shoot the ball with their feet set and not really having our hands up at all."
It was a far cry from the Gators handing the Razorbacks the worst loss ever in Bud Walton Arena history last season with a 98-68 humbling.
Powell, who also had a team-high six rebounds, did not play in the game last year because of injury but certainly made his presence known early with a 3-pointer to open the game and seven early points.
"I thought when he came into the league as a freshman he was a terrific player," Donovan said. "I know he's had to battle injures the last couple of years but he is one of the elite players in our league. I don't think there is any question. He has done it for a long period of time.
"He is a very gifted offensive player," Donovan added. "He has great hands. He can shoot it he can put it on the floor and go to the basket. As a forward he always has an advantage because if he's playing a bigger, slower guy he can go around you. If he's playing a smaller guy he can post up and score. So any time you play him he creates a mismatch."
Mike Rosario had 15 points to lead Florida while Scottie Wilbekin had 14, Michael Frazier 11, Kenny Boynton 10 and Patric Young and Erik Murphy nine each.
The Gators shot a season-low 29.2 percent in the first half and just 41 percent for the game while also coughing up 16 turnovers.
"Well, they bought into the defense and that's what we talked about – our brand of defense," Anderson said. "They are helping one another, they are fixing things, when it breaks down we are contesting shots and we are coming up with loose balls. We won most all of the 50-50 balls tonight. That tells me they are playing for the team. There are no more I, it is about team. We are progressing in the right direction."
Florida had been allowing just 48 points per game in SEC play.
"We shot the ball well, but the thing I like about it is that our defense has been pretty constant the last few games," Anderson said. "If we can continue to build on that and shoot the ball - and we are not that bad a shooting team – when the shots fall hopefully we will have people in trouble."
Arkansas – now 14-1 at home this season – will now head back out on the road where it is 0-7 this season.
The Razorbacks visit Vanderbilt Saturday at 12:47 p.m. before going to Auburn next Wednesday for an 8 p.m. game.
Arkansas has beaten both of those teams earlier this season at Bud Walton Arena.
"For our guys and to me, it is like another opportunity to take a test," Anderson said. "We've almost (won) at Alabama, we played terrible at South Carolina and now we get a chance to go back on the road against a team that we have already played before. We played them here and we know they are going to be prepared.
"I want to see us take the right mindset on the road and we have the right mindset," Anderson added. "Can we go out and execute with that mindset knowing that defense is going to be the key for our basketball team? I would think so. We'll see."
Photos courtesy of the Associated Press
Arkansas freshman JaCorey Williams - shown here shooting over Erik Murphy and Michael Frazier (20) - had seven points and five rebounds in his 13 minutes of action on Tuesday night.
Marshawn Powell celebrates after Arkansas knocks off No. 2 Florida.
Powell and Hunter Mickelson (8 points, 4 rebounds) harass Florida center Patric Young.
Michael Qualls, who had his second straight solid effort with 11 points and four rebounds, grimaces as his battles inside.