Game story: Arkansas picks up second win in last three games with 78-75 triumph over Georgia on Saturday at Bud Walton Arena

By Kevin McPherson
on 2024-02-11 01:27 AM

By Kevin McPherson

FAYETTEVILLE – Arkansas out-scrapped Georgia in the final minute of the game to pick up its second conference home win while poking its head above water in its overall wins-and-losses ledger as the Razorbacks defeated the Bulldogs, 78-75, on Saturday at Bud Walton Arena.

Arkansas led by as many as 10 points in the first half before settling on a 5-point advantage at the break, and it led by as many as 12 points early in the second half before Georgia clawed back to take one-point leads on three different occasions in the final 3:57 of the game. Senior guard El Ellis’s left-corner triple put the Hogs up 72-70 with 1:42 to play before a Bulldogs score tied the game at 72-all at the 1:18 mark.

But senior forward / center Makhi Mitchell scored on a layup to put Arkansas up for good, 74-72, with 54 seconds remaining, and the Razorbacks made 4-of-6 free throws in the final 23.6 seconds to hold off the ‘Dogs for the victory.

The Hoop Hogs (12-11, 3-7 SEC, NCAA NET No. 120) have won two of their last three games while moving to 9-4 overall at BWA, which includes a 2-3 mark in league play. Arkansas’ NET resume now includes a 1-6 mark in Q1 games, 2-4 in Q2, 4-1 in Q3, and 5-0 in Q4. The team’s only Quad-1 win was an 80-75 home victory over then-No. 7 Duke in late November.

Arkansas split games this season against Georgia (14-10, 4-7 SEC, NCAA NET No. 88) as the Bulldogs won on their home court, 76-66, when the two teams met in January. The Hogs lead the all-time series, 27-17. The Bulldogs have now lost their last five league games after starting 4-2.

Ellis and sophomore guard Kenyon Menifield, Jr., each scored 15 points to lead five Hogs in double-digit scoring. Each player made 6-of-11 field goals with Ellis leading the team with 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, and 3-of-6 three-point shooting.

Mitchell finished with 14 points (4-of-6 field goals and 6-of-8 free throws), 5 rebounds, and a game-high 3 blocks. Junior wing and leading scorer Tramon Mark got off to a slow start offensively but finished with 13 points (4-of-8 field goals and 5-of-8 free throws), 5 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 assists, and 2 blocks. Senior forward / center Jalen Graham contributed 11 points and 3 rebounds.

Making his return after a three-game absence, senior guard Davonte “Devo” Davis chipped in 4 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 1 turnover, and a boxscore plus-8 in 35 minutes.

Working mostly against a 1-3-1 zone defense, Arkansas had 10 assists on 28-of-49 overall field goal shooting (57.1%), including 5-of-14 from 3 (35.7%). The Hogs were 17-of-26 at the free throw line (65.4%). The Razorbacks shot a blistering-hot 14-of-19 from the field (73.7%) on 7 assists in the final 20 minutes.

Defensively, the Hogs yielded 26-of-54 field goal shooting (48.1%) to Georgia, including only 4-of-18 from 3 (22.2%). The ‘Dogs shot 19-of-23 at the free throw line (82.6%).

Arkansas won turnovers (14-12, including 9-5 in steals), points-off-turnovers (21-8), total rebounds (28-27), bench scoring (44-20), fast break points (19-15), and blocks (6-2).

“I thought our second half defense was not nearly as good as our first half,” fifth-year Arkansas head coach Eric Musselman said. “I thought our first half defense was absolutely phenomenal. Obviously, we didn’t want to give up threes. We held them to 1-of-12 from three in the first half. Second half, we took away the three-ball attempts. They went 3-of-6 in the second half. I thought we did a good job against 1-3-1 defense, scoring 44 points in the second half. They’re a good team, they’re a gritty team. Two teams that were kind of desperate today I thought.

“We’re still searching [for] who we are and trying to figure out an identity. Tonight we were able to play really small, and I thought it helped us a lot. Based on matchups tonight, it allowed us to be able to do that. I thought we took great care of the ball. We had 12 turnovers, but four or five of them were stepping out of bounds. We did not have many live-ball turnovers at all, even though they had a 1-3-1 that was really, really extended. I thought we did a good job of handling that.”

Georgia was led by guards Silas Denary, Jr. (19 points) and Justin Hill (18 points). But the Hogs limited the ‘Dogs three leading scorers on the season — Jabri Abdur-Rahim, Noah Thomasson, and RJ Melendez — to a combined 10 points on a collective 5-of-18 field goal shooting, including 0-of-9 from 3.

Musselman improved to 107-53 overall as Head Hog, which includes a 48-40 mark against SEC foes and a 59-13 record against non-conference opponents (all three marks include postseason results).

Next up for Arkansas is another home game as the Hogs will host No. 6 Tennessee on Wednesday, Feb. 14, at BWA (8 p.m. CT, ESPN2).

Against Georgia on Saturday, Musselman started Ellis, Mark, Layden Blocker, Jeremiah Davenport, and Chandler Lawson.

The Hogs trailed 19-15 when they closed the first-half outscoring the ‘Dogs 19-10 to take a 34-29 lead at the break

Jalen Graham (10 points and 2 rebounds) led the first-half production for the Hogs.

Arkansas had 3 first-half assists for 14-of-30 field goal shooting (46.7%), including 2-of-6 from 3 (33.3%). The Hogs were 4-of-6 at the free throw line (66.7%) in the opening half.

Defensively, the Hogs yielded only 10-of-28 field goal shooting (35.7%) to Georgia in the first half, including 1-of-12 from 3 (8.3%). The ‘Dogs shot 8-of-10 at the free throw line (80.0%) in the first 20 minutes.

Arkansas won first-half turnovers (7-4), points-off-turnovers (12-1), overall rebounds (19-18), second-chance-points (6-2), bench scoring (21-4), and points-in-the-paint (22-18).

(Last updated: 2024-02-11 01:27 AM)