Arkansas Razorbacks 71, South Carolina Gamecocks 64: Never Easy

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

17-9, 6-7

South Carolina is one of the worst teams in the SEC, and Arkansas went on a big 18-2 first half run to take a 40-23 lead with 1:15 before halftime. It was going to be a smooth, routine win. Right?

Wrong.

The Gamecocks came roaring back. In the last minute of the first half and the first two minutes of the second, Arkansas' lead was cut from 17 points to just two. It was a 15-0 run in just about three minutes.

The Razorbacks had to find ways to manufacture points in the second half because most of the team was not shooting well. Rashad Madden, who's been tied for the team lead in points, averaging 13.2 per game, was 0-8 from the field and finished with three points. Bobby Portis also averages 13.2, but he only took five shots, making three. They were able to get to the free throw line quite a bit, taking 21 free throws (but making only 12) compared to just 8 trips to the line for South Carolina.

The Hogs were never able to push their lead into double digits in the second half, and South Carolina actually tied the game at 55 with just over five minutes left, and at that point Arkansas had only made four field goals in the half. But when the game was tied, Arkansas scored seven straight points, beginning with a big three from Michael Qualls.

And Qualls was easily the player of the game for Arkansas. He nearly set a career high with 20 points, shooting 7-for-14 from the field and hitting four threes. He also had eight rebounds, two steals and a block. The rest of the team struggled offensively. Coty Clarke found a way to score 12 points with six of them coming from the free throw line. He also had 12 rebounds for the double-double.

However, the Hogs did score points when they needed them. South Carolina cut the lead to 62-60 with 1:41 left, but Mardracus Wade answered with a huge three at the other end. He scored eight total points on 3-5 shooting, and the Razorbacks hit six free throws after Wade's big three to put the game away

The Gamecocks had one final possession when a three would have tied the game, but Arkansas forced another turnover when they tried to get the ball to Brenton Williams. Williams was spectacular for South Carolina. We wrote in our preview that Arkansas had to keep him from having a career night, but he nearly pulled it off with 29 points. He did set a season high for field goals made with 11.

We also said Arkansas should have an advantage collecting steals and forcing turnovers, as South Carolina has the worst rate in the league at giving them up. The Razorbacks set a high for themselves in SEC play with 13 steals and scoring 23 points off turnovers.

In the end, it's a win for Arkansas that the team needed. They've now won four of their last five games. This game alone wasn't particularly memorable, and won't have too much of an impact on what happens in the postseason, but it gets the Hogs a win away from improving their conference mark to .500 with a trip to Mississippi State on deck.

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