The Oklahoma State Cowboys found several easy baskets in the first half against the Arkansas Razorbacks. Just when it looked like another disappointing defensive performance, the Razorbacks turned up the heat on the second half and came up with the 66-65 victory in their Jan. 27 game.
The game came down to the very last possession. Cowboy senior guard Jeffrey Carroll put up a rainbow floater in the lane that narrowly rimmed out. Cowboy senior forward Mitchell Solomon had a good look for a tip-in shot, and it looked like it was going to go in and sink Arkansas’ chances at a victory, but that too popped out. The second was rebounded by senior forward Trey Thompson, who held on to the ball to give the Razorbacks the victory.
“Basketball is a game of runs,” Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said. “It’s a 40-minute game, not a 20 minute game. I thought our defense was totally different in the second half.”
Oklahoma State sophomore guard Brandon Averette didn’t know why the shots weren’t falling, but he said it wasn’t a failure in the plan for the final play.
“Coach drew up a play to get to the basket,” Averette said. “We got a good look, but it just didn’t fall for us.”
The Razorbacks found themselves down by as much as 12 points in the second half before the defensive switch flipped on for the Hogs. Oklahoma State shot 15-for-30 in the first half and had several looks in the paint. In the second half the Cowboys went 11-for-30.
The goal of Arkansas’ defensive pressure is to hurry its opponents up and force them into bad turnovers. The Razorbacks pressured the Cowboys into nine second-half turnovers and turning them into eight points.
“We started to lock in on defense,” Arkansas senior guard Anton Beard said. “I think teams are keying into us not playing defense and as a team, we came together and decided to get stops.”
After trailing for most of the game, Arkansas took its first lead of the game with 10:50 left in the first half when Razorback senior forward Arlando Cook found space inside to tip in a miss from Arkansas freshman forward Darious Hall. It was a back and forth affair from there, as neither team led by more than three points the rest of the way.
Oklahoma State went 9-for-28 the rest of the game after the Pokes got the aforementioned 12-point lead. The Cowboys couldn’t find the bottom of the basket despite getting good looks. They were held to two baskets the last 16:28 of the game and none in the last 7:33 of the game.
Oklahoma State stayed in the game by going 9-for-11 from the field in the last 7:33 of the game. Fans were not happy, and neither was Arkansas senior guard Jaylen Barford. With 10:14 left in the game, Barford was called for a foul. Barford thought he was shoved and argued with the refs to the point where he was called for a technical foul.
Despite the calls down the stretch, Arkansas players kept a cool head and were able to come away with the victory.
Arkansas senior guard Daryl Macon led the team with 22 points off the bench. No other Razorbacks scored in double figures. Arkansas senior forward Dustin Thomas almost had a double-double with nine points and 10 rebounds. Oklahoma State sophomore guard Lindy Waters led his team with 17 points. Cowboy sophomore guard Brandon Averette and Solomon scored 10 points each.
The Razorbacks’ win improved their season record to 15-6 and helped give the Southeastern Conference an overall victory in the SEC/Big 12 challenge. The Razorbacks have a chance to win their fourth straight when they face the Texas A&M Aggies 8 p.m. Jan. 30.