Every time Arkansas made a little run, LSU answered. Every time. The Razorbacks chipped away at LSU's lead throughout the day, even taking the lead in the last few minutes, but LSU hit two threes in the last minute of the game that tied it and then won it.
The Tigers, who put themselves on the NCAA Tournament bubble earlier this week with a home loss to Tennessee, likely punched their ticket with the win in Bud Walton (you could see the joy on Johnny Jones' face after the game). We'll wait and see how the loss impacts Arkansas' seeding. It likely removes any chance at a 4-seed unless they beat Kentucky in the SEC Tournament, but it may have knocked them down to a 6-seed especially if they don't win in Nashville.
Clearly, LSU had much more to play for than Arkansas did and it showed. They went all out.
One of LSU's front court stars, Jordan Mickey, didn't play due to an injury, theoretically giving Arkansas a big advantage. But that wasn't the case as freshman guard Jalyn Patterson had a career game with 20 points off 6 three pointers, both career highs. Mickey's frontcourt-mate, Jarell Martin, was a point away from his career high with 27 points. He was 11-18 from the field and had 8 rebounds. He also played all 40 minutes and made the key block on a layup attempt by Alandise Harris on Arkansas' last play. I'd thought Arkansas' tempo might be an advantage this late in the season against a shorthanded LSU, which already plays their starters over 30 minutes a game, but it wasn't. artin was incredible.
The play fans probably have the most questions about is that aforementioned last play by the Hogs. Arkansas had the ball with just under a minute left after Patterson hit his final three. It was a prime 2-for-1 opportunity for the Razorbacks, but Michael Qualls dribbled some time off the clock outside on the perimeter. Mike Anderson called a time out with 45 seconds left, but instead of ensuring the Hogs would get a final possession, the Hogs stayed stagnant until the last few seconds of the shot clock when Harris drove to the basket but was blocked, setting up LSU for the final possession.
Keith Hornsby hadn't made a three all day, and Qualls said afterward he tipped the ball as it was shot, but it went in and the air went out of Bud Walton Arena.
Arkansas didn't play too badly. The fell behind in the first half when LSU went on a run when the score was tied at 15 and the Hogs soon found themselves down by 12. Bobby Portis had 21 points and 15 rebounds. Michael Qualls had 15 and 7. Ky Madden had 12 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists. Anthlon Bell had 12 points on 4-11 three point shooting and Alandise Harris had 10 points. They earned back the lead but couldn't hang on to it.
It's a disappointing end to what's been a great regular season for the Razorbacks. They now look toward the SEC Tournament in Nashville. They will tip on Friday night around 6 pm against the winner of the 7/10 game.