Well, Mississippi State scored more than 9 points in the first half this time, and in the process gave the Razorbacks a solid scare in Starkville.
The Bulldogs had a five point lead with just more than nine minutes to play and had led for most of the game. That's when Arkansas launched one of their trademark runs, this time a 13-3 turnaround that lasted until Craig Sword hit a three with 37 seconds left in the game and Mississippi State down by six. With the lead cut down to three Arkansas naturally turned the ball over on the ensuing in bounds pass (they've done that way too often his year) when Michael Qualls tried to give it toss it to Ky Madden in the corner and then gave up a layup to trim the lead to a single point.
But the Hogs did manage to get to the line after that possession, with Qualls and Anton Beard knocking down five of six shots to give Arkansas the four-point victory.
We found out after the game that Bobby Portis had the flu this week, and he was playing like it, especially in the first half. Arkansas' SEC Player of the Year candidate only had one point at halftime, and missed several shot he usually makes - including an open tomahawk dunk that flew off the back of the rim.
But Portis came alive more in the second half. He finished with 13 points, and added 9 rebounds and 4 blocks to go along with it. His dunk on a breakaway in the last minute of the game helped seal it.
The rest of the team did a lot to keep Arkansas in the game until they were able to break away in the end. Ky Madden led everybody with 16 points (making Scottie Bordelon look quite prescient in the process), Qualls had 14 and Beard had 11.
Jacorey Williams came off the bench and pitched in 7 points and Moses Kingsley tied a career-high with 5 blocks and 6 rebounds. Alandise Harris played fewer minutes because of foul trouble, but the charge he drew late in the second half on a Mississippi State fast break was a fantastic play. Harris had four fouls at the time and easily could have given up the layup, fearful that he wouldn't get the call, but he did and it helped Arkansas win. It was a ballsy moment from him that paid off.
There was a lot of ugly in this game. Mississippi State turned the ball over 23 times (some forced by Arkansas, some forced by ineptitude) and Arkansas committed 14 of their own.
Give the Bulldogs credit for being a much better team than they looked like they'd be in December. Ware's 13 points and 9 rebounds with Sword's 15 points and 5 assists helped them nearly pull off the upset, but it wasn't to be.
With the win, Arkansas secures a winning road record in SEC play, which is no small thing. It's unfortunate that the Bulldogs struggled so badly in non conference because their lowly RPI won't do many favors for the Hogs, but the extra road win is something to value.
The Hogs continue to hold on to sole possession of 2nd place in the league with the win. The road win might help Arkansas secure a 5-seed. The Razorbacks were teetering between a 5 and 6-seed in bracket projections before today's games. We'll see how the new brackets look come Monday.
But give Arkansas a lot of credit. They've won six straight, secured a winning road record in SEC play and are finding ways to win games they could easily lose.
Big couple of weeks coming up to end the regular season.