Hell Yeah: Arkansas 57, Auburn 55

What an ugly, ugly game.

And what a thrilling, big win for the Razorbacks.

Video of this game certainly will not be shown at basketball clinics: both teams shot less than 40 percent from the field, and 37 fouls were called during the game. For a while there in the second half, it seemed like every single possession resulted in yet another whistle being blown.  

And there were boneheaded plays galore; to name just a few: Marcus Britt's goaltending that ended the first half, Marshawn Powell's ridiculous three-point attempt with just more than three minutes to go and the Hogs holding on for dear life to a three-point lead, and Julysses Nobles' ill-advised layup attempt with just 42 seconds left and Arkansas up by two.  

And Auburn is, to put it mildly, no great shakes. After today's contest, the Tigers have a 2-12 record in SEC play and an overall mark of 9-19.

And yet, I find myself pretty jazzed about the victory. First off, it's a road win, and we all know how rare they've been in recent years. How many times over these last few seasons have we seen these Hogs go on the road for a very winnable game, only to see them come out sleepwalking and promptly dig themselves a huge hole?

Today, the Hogs came out with plenty of intensity and built themselves an early double-digit lead. Of course, they coughed up a 12-point lead in the second half but they didn't fold. With the game on the line, Julysses Nobles whipped a picture-perfect pass to Delvon Johnson for a game-winning, rim-rattling dunk with six seconds left. As flawed as the game was, I thought that was a genuinely thrilling moment.

I am really proud of the effort displayed by this team these last two games (although Powell's heavily sedated performance today is definitely worrisome). Instead of letting their season go off the rails like they have the previous two years, they've shown some real backbone and fight.

Certainly, these guys can be maddening to watch at times, but after all of the season's ups and downs, here they stand with an 18-10 record and a good shot at a strong finish and an NIT berth. It may be not be the glory days, but it's a meaningful improvement over the past two years.

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