Washington leads Arkansas past Mississippi 80-73
OXFORD, Miss. (AP)—After winning two games in the Southeastern Conference last season, Arkansas is suddenly 3-3 and has notched back-to-back wins over Western Division-leading teams.
All is right in the Razorbacks world? Not so fast, coach John Pelphrey said, after his team muscled past No. 18 Mississippi 80-73 on Sunday.
“This is six games, not 16,” Pelphrey said as he stepped in front of a feel-good question aimed at one of his players. “We’ve got a lot of work to do.”
Mike Washington had 22 points and 11 rebounds, and Marshawn Powell added 19 points to go along with two key blocks with the game on the line as Arkansas snapped a 15-game conference road losing streak.
The Razorbacks (10-11) erased an eight-point deficit to beat the Rebels (16-5, 4-3) just days after overcoming a 12-point deficit against Mississippi State, and the wins couldn’t have been more different.
In Thursday’s 67-62 win over the Bulldogs, slashing guard Courtney Fortson scored 33 of his career-high 35 points in the second half to lead the rally.
On Saturday, Fortson sat on the bench for much of the second half after picking up his fourth foul with nearly 13 minutes left. Powell and Washington stepped in and dominated the short-handed Rebels’ frontcourt to snap Ole Miss’ three-game winning streak.
After watching Murphy Holloway power to 11 points and 13 rebounds in the first half, Washington had 14 points and Powell had 12 points over the final 20 minutes. They held Holloway to eight points in the second half, and Powell blocked Holloway twice in the closing minutes.
“It took us a while to figure out we had an advantage down low,” Powell said. “I guess we just weren’t being patient.”
With orders from Pelphrey to get the ball inside at least once on every possession, Arkansas got Ole Miss forwards DeAundre Cranston and Terrance Henry in foul trouble. With center Reggie Buckner also out with an ankle injury, that left just Holloway and the Rebels’ guards to handle defending the paint.
Powell and Washington pressed that advantage mercilessly, converting lob passes into layups as Ole Miss’ smaller defenders fronted them.
Powell scored eight points during a 13-6 opening run to erase a five-point deficit and give Arkansas a 47-45 lead in the second half. Ole Miss pushed back out to a five-point lead, but this time Washington answered by scoring six in a 12-4 run that made it 63-60 Arkansas.
Warren and Terrico White hit consecutive 3s to give the Rebels one last lead, but Washington and Powell scored 10 of the Razorbacks’ next 13 points as they went ahead 76-71 with 1:06 left.
With the focus inside, Rotnei Clarke scored 18 for the Razorbacks, hitting a key 3-pointer with 3 minutes left and four straight free throws to ice the win.
Washington and Powell also were golden from the line, combining to go 15 of 18.
“Mike and Marshawn had 18 free throws in the game and they converted those, which shows our toughness on the road,” Pelphrey said.
It was the first loss for Ole Miss in 12 games when it outrebounded its opponent. The Rebels had a 45-32 rebounding advantage, including 23-5 on offense. But the Razorbacks outscored Ole Miss 36-34 in the paint and Clarke took advantage, hitting 4 of 6 3-pointers.
Immediately after the loss, the Rebels’ thoughts turned to Tuesday’s game against No. 1 Kentucky. Buckner’s foot is in a walking boot and he’s expected to be out.
“We’ve got to come up with some kind of defensive scheme for Kentucky,” Holloway said.