Arkansas Pulls Away From Bulldogs In Second Half

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Fred Thomas' 17 points led the Bulldogs Wednesday night in Fayetteville.
Photo Courtesy of Bill Simmonds

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - An inability to take care of the basketball did in the Mississippi State men's basketball team Wednesday night.

MSU committed a season-high 29 turnovers, giving way to 42 Arkansas points, as the Bulldogs fell to the Razorbacks 96-70 in a Southeastern Conference contest played at Bud Walton Arena.

The Bulldogs gave up a season-high 96 points and could not overcome major issues caused by the Razorbacks full-court pressure. MSU (7-10 overall, 2-3 conference) dropped its third straight, while Arkansas (12-6, 3-2) won for the third time in four seasons in this series on its home floor.

"You can't win a game when you turn the ball over 29 times," MSU head coach Rick Ray said. "They shot 49 percent from the field, but a lot of those were layups caused by the turnovers. Our defense is beginning to slide downhill. Even when the defense is set, they are not locked in. We have things that need to be fixed.

"We turned it over a couple of times against the press, but most of the turnovers were unforced ones."

The Bulldogs fell down 14-3 rather quickly. However, the Maroon and White rallied with an 8-0 run. MSU would later close within two at 23-21 on another 8-0 run.

A Colin Borchert 3-point basket brought MSU within 28-24. However, Arkansas quickly extended the lead back out to 14 points. MSU scored the final five points of the half and trailed 42-33 at the intermission.

"We have to be tougher with the basketball," Ray said. "Sometimes, we don't make smart decisions and are selfish with the basketball. When we make the extra pass, it's the wrong one. We have to be mentally tougher. We have to have more focus. There are some things we have to address and we have to do that now."  

A pair of turnovers led to two fast-break baskets for Arkansas to start the second half. Feeding off the home crowd, the Razorbacks quickly built the lead back to 14. Two free throws by Gavin Ware brought MSU within 52-42 with 15:05 left in regulation.

From there, turnovers and mounting foul trouble consumed the Bulldogs. Ahead by 12 with 12:00 left, Arkansas ripped off 16 straight points to remove all doubt from the contest.

For the contest, the Bulldogs hit 22 of 54 shots from the field (40.7 percent), 9 of 19 shots from 3-point range (47.4 percent) and 17 of 21 shots from the foul line (81.0 percent). The Razorbacks hit 33 of 67 shots from the field (49.3 percent), 9 of 27 shots from 3-point range (33.3 percent) and 21 of 26 shots from the foul line (80.8 percent).

MSU held a 36-34 rebounding advantage. The Bulldogs had 11 assists and 29 turnovers, while the Razorbacks had 27 assists and 13 turnovers.

The Bulldogs did out-rebound a conference opponent for the first time this season. The nine 3-point makes also matched a conference game high.

Fred Thomas had his highest point total in a league game with a team-high 17 points. Ware also added a new league standard, while adding 11 points. Craig Sword added 10 points. Thomas also had an assist, two blocks and a steal. Fresh off a nine-rebound effort against Tennessee, Ware had a team-high eight rebounds Wednesday. Borchert fouled out, while two others finished with four fouls.

Arkansas placed four in double figures. Marshawn Powell had a team-high 17 points, while Coty Clarke and B.J. Young each added 13 points. Jacorey Williams scored 10 points.

MSU returns to the Humphrey Coliseum for a Saturday contest with eighth-ranked Florida. Game time is 7 p.m., with a national telecast set to air on ESPN2.



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