Arkansas Razorbacks 77, Vanderbilt Commodores 75: No Choke

Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

15-8, 4-6

History had the opportunity to repeat itself once again, but it didn't.

Arkansas had an opportunity to once again lose the game after leading most of the way, and they did lose the lead, but they took it back.

Rashad Madden had an opportunity to once again take dribble down the clock and take a three at the buzzer, but he picked up an assist instead.

Mike Anderson had an opportunity to once again, put whatever nonsensical lineup on the floor at strange times, well okay he still did that, but Arkansas ended up winning anyway.

After an incredible first half in which Arkansas and Vanderbilt both shot over 50% (the Hogs over 60%) and took a 45-40 lead into the locker room, the Razorbacks built a nine point lead with just under nine minutes to play. They were doing it by not only hitting a lot of shots, but running Vanderbilt ragged with the full court press. The Hogs were swarming and stealing and dunking, and it was glorious.

An audible, in-game Hog Call was heard on TV after Michael Qualls stole the ball in the backcourt and scored on an easy two-handed dunk.

But of course, Arkansas promptly gave up a 12-0 run to the 'Dores and found themselves down by three with 3:20 to go.

But then, when it seemed the Hogs were set to give another game away - and make no mistake, this would have been the biggest choke job of the season - Rashad Madden tied the game with a three. Kyle Fuller answered at the other end, then Madden tied it again with a short jumper.

Coty Clarke had a chance to put Arkansas up by two a couple of possessions later, but split his free throws to up the Hogs up one. Fuller was fouled at the other end but hit his free throws to put Vanderbilt up one with 11 seconds left .

Then, glory.

Madden dribbled down the middle of the court and passed it to Qualls on the wing, and then, swish. Hogs up two with four seconds left, and while the Commodores were able to set up a good shot for Rod Odom, it was off and THE RAZORBACKS WON A ROAD GAME.

After the Kentucky dunk, is it fair to say Qualls is the most clutch Hog? Two of Arkansas' four SEC wins have now come because of his last-second points.

So that's what happened, the question now is whether this was a breakthrough for a struggling program or an anomaly?

This was not another road win over a really awful team like the last couple of wins over Auburn in the last two seasons. Vanderbilt's RPI is 66. It's the Hogs first RPI win over an RPI top 100 program in probably four years.

But if Arkansas isn't able to build off of it, what difference does it make? Arkansas can win out at home, split the four remaining road games, and enter the SEC Tournament with 21 wins and a legit shot at a postseason appearance. Lose all four road games and they are probably staying at home again barring a run in the Atlanta tournament.

It's up to the team. They get a nice break with the upcoming game at Missouri being on Thursday this week. It's a huge opportunity for Arkansas to avenge the home loss to the Tigers and get the season somewhat back on track.

Can Arkansas do it?

Hard to see any reason why they can't. The team has talented players. A few days after Bobby Portis put the team on his back, he only scored eight points against Vanderbilt. But it was okay because Qualls was huge, with 17 points on 5-10 shooting.

Mardracus Wade had his best game of the year, scoring 11 including a pair of threes. Wade also played 16 minutes in the second half. It could be huge if he's able to take back that 1st-team guard role he held until this season. Arkansas has struggled filling the 5th spot in the lineup most of the year.

Madden and Clarke were both 5-7 from the floor and scored 12 and 14 points, respectively.

We've been saying all year, the team has scoring options but they haven't been knocking down shots for most of the SEC season. The team was 10-16 from three today. They're a hard team to beat when they shoot like that. Vanderbilt came close on account of shooting 51.1% from the floor themselves, but it wasn't enough.

Missouri, for their part, has lost all three games since beating Arkansas. But they were also playing Kentucky, Florida, and Ole Miss, which are all tough games.  We'll see how it shakes out Thursday night.

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