Thanks in large to a 20-2 run that spanned the end of the first half and the beginning of the second, the Arkansas Razorbacks beat South Carolina 76-65 in front of 16,100 in attendance Saturday afternoon in Bud Walton Arena.
The Razorbacks (17-5, 5-5 SEC) also put together an 11-0 run, all of South Carolina (9-15, 1-9 SEC) turnovers, with 7:50 remaining in the game until 6:09 remained to move ahead 68-45. But USC's Brenton Williams hit a 3-pointer with 5:45 to play to end the run and jumpstart a 16-0 run that made it a 68-61 game suddenly with 2:38 to play. Arkansas scored 8 of the final 12 points to come away with the win.
"We rebounded the basketball," UA head coach Mike Anderson said. "We dictated the tempo of that game, trying to get the ball out of Ellington's hands.
"You look at the last game and you wonder do we have a frontcourt," Anderson said. "The effort, the energy's got to be there and understanding whether you're at home or on the road, you're going to get everybody's best shot."
The star of the show was freshman guard B.J. Young, who scored 16 of his 27 points in the first half. Young also had 5 rebounds, 4 assists and a steal on the day that the UA honored former Razorback coach Nolan Richardson. Arkansas premiered the ESPN Storied special 40 Minutes of Hell following the game.
"BJ came off the bench and gave us a great game," Anderson said. "To ha those guys in here, Coach Richardson, his staff, all those guys in here, they wanted to be part of it. All we had to do was go win the game, and we did."
Arkansas was without senior forward Michael Sanchez (shoulder sprain) but managed to out-rebound the bigger Gamecocks anyway, 32-30, thanks to other inside players like Devonta Abron, 10 points and 6 rebounds, and Hunter Mickelson, 11 points, 4 rebounds and 2 blocks.
"We were real hungry. We just came together and played, tightened up and played defense, rebounded the ball," Abron said. "We just challenged each other to see how many rebounds we could get apiece."
Arkansas also got a nice boost from Brandon Mitchell. The Razorback quarterback saw the most action of his playing career Saturday with 16 minutes. He chipped in 8 points and pulled down 4 rebounds. His first bucket of the season came on a tip-in with 12:11 to play in the first half.
"He helped us a lot," Abron said. "He brought great energy to the game. He's in basketball shape now, getting up and down the floor,"
Rashad Madden only had 2 points for Arkansas, but he did a great job managing the game and pulled down a team-high 7 rebounds to go with his 4 assists.
"I thought another guy that had a big impact on this game is Ky Madden," Anderson said. "Just with his basketball IQ, handling the basketball, getting the ball to the right people, getting assists."
Damontre Harris led the Gamecocks with 12 points and 7 rebounds, and Malik Cooke finished with 11 points and 8 rebounds but had 6 of Carolina's 21 turnovers. Arkansas had 17 turnovers of their own.
"The only real way to prepare for that is experience. We don't have a lot of veterans," USC head coach Darrin Horn said. "You're not playing against the 18,000 or however many comes, just the five guys on the court."
The Hogs shot 50.8 percent from the field (30 of 59), compared to 41.8 percent for the Gamecocks (23 of 55). Arkansas was 5 of 13 from 3-point range (38.5 percent) compared to 5 of 25 for USC (20.0 percent). Arkansas also shot 11 of 14 from the charity stripe (78.6 percent) while USC shot 14 of 21 (66.7 percent).
After Arkansas took their first lead of the game, 7-5, on a Young 3-pointer with 14:35 to play in the half, they never trailed again even though the Gamecocks tied it up four more times.
The Razorbacks led 25-17 following a fast-break layup by Young that forced the Gamecocks to call a timeout with 7:01 to play in the half. Out of the timeout, USC went on an 8-0 run to tie it up 25-25 with 4:26 to play and forced Arkansas in turn to call timeout. With 3:50 remaining, South Carolina tied it up for the final time at 27-27, but that was the only bucket for USC as the Hogs put together an 14-2 run to close out the half, and USC would not score again for another 7 minutes and 48 seconds of game action.
"It was like 3 minutes and 50 seconds left and we were in the huddle, and our coach told us we want to really expand this lead. We do 4-minute drills in practice," Young said.
As the second half opened, Arkansas scored the first 6 points to make it 44-27. They later put together the 11-point run and made it a 23-point lead, 68-45 with 6:09 to play before letting the Gamecocks back in it with a 16-0 run of their own to make it 68-61. But it was too little too late as the Hogs held on for the 76-65 win.
"We had the stretch were there were five straight turnovers, and I think every one of them led to a basket," Horn said. "There's a reason they're good at home. Their crowd was terrific, and they were able to make those runs."
The win was Arkansas' 17th home victory, a school record that topped the effort by the 1994 national championship team.
"I'm very proud of them. I think with all the things that have taken place, all the adversity that has taken place, new coach, new system," Anderson said. "For these guys to withstand that, to be where they are, they're in the hunt for something, I don't know what."
Young felt it was a great goal to meet, but it's not the one he has had his eye on as of late. Arkansas is winless away from Bud Walton Arena this season.
"It feels great to have a record at home, but it would feel even better to go out on the road and take one at somebody else's house," Young said.
The Hogs play at Tennessee on Wednesday. The game will tip at 7 p.m. (CST).