FAYETTEVILLE - Arkansas (13-6, 3-3) came out of the halftime break and went on a 21-1 run to break a 4-point game wide open while Auburn (7-13, 0-6) went 0-for-23 from the field. The Razorbacks held off a late Tiger rally for a 73-64 win.
"I thought for 30 minutes we played really good defense and rebounded the ball very well," Arkansas Coach John Pelphrey said. "Relaxed, didn't play well, Auburn made some good plays. Whatever the case may be, we didn't play as well as we needed to those last 7-8 minutes. Fortunately for us we had a big lead, and we were able to hang on."
With just under 11 minutes to go in the second half, AU went 0-for-5 on a single possession. On the other end, Arkansas' Marcus Britt found Delvon Johnson in the lane for a dunk. Following another AU miss, Arkansas guard Rotnei Clarke got open in the corner for a 3-pointer. Auburn continued the run to 23-straight second-half misses on the next possession, and Julysses Nobles found Britt in the same spot as Clarke for another Razorback 3 to extend the run to 21-1, put the Hogs ahead by a game-high 24 points and make it a 55-31 ballgame with 9:06 left.
"Winning feels good," Nobles said. "We have confidence going into every game. We've just got to play."
From there, aside from an impressive effort from Nobles at the free throw line, it was all AU. Auburn's Tony Neysmith hit a shot with 8:36 left, ending the 0-for-23 drought and the 21-1 Arkansas run. Earnest Ross quickly found Naismith with a short jumper to make it 55-35, giving the Tigers back-to-back buckets.
"Coach kept telling us that they only scored like 1 time in the half, and I guess that just made us relax a little bit, and they ended up getting back into the game," Powell said. "We have our rough days, they have rough days. We played really good defense, though."
Suddenly Auburn was on a 13-0 run and behind by only 11, 55-44. With 5:28 to go, Adrian Forbes' baby hook made the Tigers 5-for-5 from the field since the 0-for-23 drought. Nobles got inside for 2 for the Hogs with 5:06 left to make it 57-44 and put a halt to the run, but Allen Payne got open on the corner for a wide-open look at 3 and drained it to make it a 10-point game, 57-47 with 4:30 remaining.
Auburn continued on, going 8-for-8 from the field until a late miss that was followed by a rebound and a Chris Denson 3-pointer from the top of the key, which closed the lead to single digits and made it 64-55 Arkansas with 2:23 remaining in the game.
With 1:10 to go, Forbes scored inside and was fouled. His free throw make pulled Auburn to within 6, 68-62, but they would never get any closer as the Hogs held on for the 73-64 win.
Nobles was instrumental for Arkansas. If not for a 3-point play with 4:01 to go and his 8-for-8 effort from the free throw line the last 2:05 of the game, Arkansas would have been in serious danger of blowing a 24-point lead at home. Nobles was 10-for-10 from the line for the game and tied for the team lead with 16 points to go with 8 rebounds, 4 assists and a block. His only negative stat was 5 turnovers.
UA forward Marshawn Powell had a good night with 13 points and a season-high 11 rebounds. Johnson scored 10 points, pulled down 6 boards and blocked 5 shots. Clarke only went 1 of 4 from 3-point range, but he made 4 of 5 inside the line and hit all 5 free throws for 16 points.
"It just took me to go to the glass, aggressively," Powell said. "That's what I'm going to do every game the rest of the year."
Arkansas was 47.8 percent from the field, 27.3 percent from 3-point range and 76.5 percent from the free throw line on 26 of 34 shooting. Auburn still shot 31 percent in the second half in spite of the horrific start and finished 35.8 percent for the game, including hitting 27.3 percent of the 3-point attempts. AU was 72.2 percent from the free throw line, 13 of 18.
Ross led the Tigers in scoring with 15 points, and he also pulled down 7 rebounds and made 3 steals. Payne scored 13 and Forbes had 11.
At the half, Clarke led Arkansas in scoring with 10 points, and Ross had 10 for the Tigers. Arkansas was 45.8 percent shooting from the field, including 1 of 4 from 3-point range. They were 11 of 15 from the free throw line and out-rebounded Auburn 21-11. Auburn was 42.3 percent from the field, including 1 of 4 from beyond the arc. Auburn was 7 of 9 from the charity stripe.
Arkansas also gave up 11 turnovers at the half to 8 for Auburn. Arkansas got a handle on it in the second half and only had 6 the rest of the way. Auburn only had 11 turnovers all night. Arkansas out-rebounded AU 39-36, including 21-11 in the first half.
"It hurt us a lot. They got out on the break on the turnovers. They were like 4-for-4 at the half [off turnovers]," Nobles said. "
On the road again
Arkansas was coming off a humiliating 32-point loss at Florida on Saturday. The Razorbacks hit the road again this Saturday for a 5 p.m. tipoff at Vanderbilt (14-4, 2-2), where Arkansas has traditionally struggled.
"We enjoy playing in front of the home crowd, but we've got to win on the road to be considered one of the best teams in this league or even a good team in this league. We've got to win on the road at least one time. It was a good win for us today, we've just got to get back in the gym and work hard," Powell said.
Auburn looks to end their 6-game losing skid at 12:30 p.m. Saturday at South Carolina (12-6, 3-2).
Odds and ends
Arkansas' Jemal Farmer saw 8 minutes of action after missing a few games dealing with "personal issues." Arkansas' Rickey Scott went down midway through the second half with an apparent leg injury and had to be helped off the court. Mardracus Wade, who has been playing a significant role, only saw 3 minutes of action against the Tigers.