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Arkansas 88, Auburn 80, 2OT: Gut Check

After leading most of the game, the Razorbacks retook the lead late before grinding out a victory in the second overtime period.

Beth Hall-USA TODAY Sports

For some reason, Auburn has always played tough in Bud Walton Arena in recent years. Last year's contest was a low-scoring game that wasn't put away until BJ Young scored on a breakaway dunk in the closing minutes. You can still see the play on the Razorbacks' intro video before home games. Auburn pushed Arkansas into overtime in one of John Pelphrey's final seasons before the Razorbacks pulled it out.

It was similar tonight. With Arkansas leading by three, Auburn launched a three, missed, and retrieved a rebound after completely running over Coty Clarke. They then hit a three with a few seconds remaining to push the game to overtime. Arkansas had the final possession in the first overtime but Young was stuffed on a drive to the basket. Two Auburn players fouled out in the second overtime, including the wonderfully named Chubb, and you could see the players were winded. Young hit a big three to push the Razorback lead to six and that was basically the end.

With the always bemoaned trip to the Tad Pad looming on Saturday, Mike Anderson knew Wednesday night's game against Auburn was important, and treated it as such. After spending much of the last few months promoting the program's new depth, which didn't exist last season, Arkansas only played 10 players tonight, likely the lowest number of the season.

Marshawn Powell and BJ Young played 44 and 47 minutes, respectively, and the Razorbacks needed everything the two stars gave them. Powell recorded a double-double with 28 points and 11 rebounds - including a huge three late in regulation. Young pitched in 22 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists.

Mardracus Wade came off the bench for the second game in a row but still played 35 minutes before fouling out in the second overtime. Wade missed a couple of free throws that may have iced the game in regulation but was clutch in the overtime periods, hitting a three and knocking down free throws. Coty Clarke also gave Arkansas big minutes off the bench, and the forward delivered, scoring 9 points and grabbing 8 rebounds.

Here's the press release from UA:

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – With 26 seconds on the clock, sophomore guard BJ Young netted a three-point basket give the University of Arkansas basketball team a six-point lead as the Razorbacks caged the Auburn Tigers in double overtime with an 88-80 victory. The stiff competition had the 13,404 fans at Bud Walton Arena on their feet much of the night in a game that featured nine lead changes and two overtimes.

"It was a hard-fought win for the Razorbacks," head coach Mike Anderson said. "We had to fight all game and that was over 40 minutes. Hats off to Auburn; they would not go away. They made some big shots. I’m proud of our guys because of our resolve. It went back and forth and in the end we got the result we wanted."

Arkansas (11-5, 2-1 SEC) played in its first double overtime game in the SEC era with its last contest that lasted 50 minutes occurred on Feb. 24, 1987, when the Hogs defeated Texas A&M on the road, 100-97.

Junior Marshawn Powell recorded his second double-double of the season and the third for Arkansas this season when he netted 28 points, 11 rebounds and two assists. His point total moved him into 31st on Arkansas’ all-time scoring list as he passed former Razorbacks Jerry Carlton and Eric Ferguson.

In addition to Young’s game-winner he had a stellar night grabbing 22 points off 8-of-16 shooting, six rebounds and five assists.

"(BJ) made plays tonight and took what the defense gave him," Anderson said. "You’ve got to trust your teammates I told him, and he did. He made a big shot and we also had some great shots down the stretch."

Even though Arkansas played 50 minutes of basketball, the Razorbacks only turned the ball over an astonishing eight times. Five of Arkansas’ turnovers came in the opening 20 minutes of play and the Hogs played the final 30 minutes with just three miscues. The Razorbacks were able to force Auburn into 19 turnovers that led to 20 Arkansas points.

After trailing by a small margin early on, Arkansas went on a 17-0 run to snap the 14-8 deficit. The stellar run began at the 14:20 mark with a three-pointer by Fred Gulley. The Razorbacks kept up the pressure holding Auburn scoreless until the 9:16 mark when Auburn connected on 1-of-2 free throws. During the timespan Auburn went 0-for-6 on field-goal attempts as the Razorbacks racked up a 10-point lead, 25-15. The Tigers would get back into the game, cutting the lead to as close as three, 28-25 but Arkansas responded by going on a 6-2 run to close the half, putting the Hogs up seven points going into the locker room, 34-27.

Young would lead Arkansas on the court in the first with 10 points off 4-of-8 shooting. The St. Louis, Mo., native tacked on two rebounds and two assists to go along with his seventh consecutive double-digit scoring game.

The beginning of the second half would swing in favor of Auburn as the Tigers managed to tie it up at 39. Arkansas and Auburn would play basket-for-basket with no team grabbing a significant lead for most of the half.

Auburn was able to muster a small lead late in the period, but Coty Clarke cut the lead to two and sent the Razorback fans to their feet. A quick Tiger three-pointer hushed the crowd, but it was Young who had fans back on their feet after connecting on a layup to cut the Tiger lead to three, 64-61. With 3:28 remaining on the clock. Junior Mardracus Wade was fouled on a layup and went to the line and knocked down both shots to bring the Razorbacks within one. Arkansas forced a turnover and Powell knocked down the biggest shot of the night to put Arkansas up 66-64. Gulley would knock down a free throw to put the score at 67-64. With the clock winding down Razorbacks fans thought Arkansas may just pull away with it, but Auburn’s Frankie Sullivan would knock down a three with five seconds remaining to send it to overtime.

Arkansas and Auburn would trade baskets throughout the first overtime with no team able to put the game away for good. A layup with 44 seconds on the clock would give the Tigers a one-point advantage, but Wade would soon get fouled on a game-winning layup and tie the game with a free throw make.

Arkansas able to pull away at the tail end of the second overtime with a three-point shot by Young giving Arkansas a comfortable six-point lead and a pair of free throws by Clarke making it an eight-point game.

The Razorbacks hit the road to face Ole Miss in Oxford, Miss., this Saturday at 12:47 p.m.