Arkansas Bullies Gators Into First Loss of Conference Season
Arkansas finally gave second-year coach Mike Anderson the signature win he had been looking for.
BJ Young led three players in double figures with 13 points as the Razorbacks opened quickly and never let up in a shocking 80-69 victory over No. 2 Florida on Tuesday night.
The win improves the Razorbacks (14-8, 5-4 Southeastern Conference) to 14-1 at home this season, and it snaps a 10-game winning streak for the Gators - who had ascended to the No. 2 spot in The AP Top 25 one day earlier.
Arkansas opened the game 15 of 20 from the field. Michael Qualls and Marshawn Powell added 11 points each and all 11 players scored for the Razorbacks in their first win over a top 10 team since early in 2008-09.
Mike Rosario led Florida (18-3, 8-1) with 15 points, while Scottie Wilbekin had 14.
After trailing by as many as 23 points in the first half, the Gators cut the lead to 43-26 at halftime.
The Razorbacks didn't give Florida a chance to come up for air to open the second half, forcing turnovers on two straight possessions to open the second half and extending the lead 49-26 following a jumper by Qualls.
Florida had one final run in it - responding with an 11-2 stretch to cut the deficit to 51-37 after an inside basket by Michael Frazier.
The Gators did close the lead to 11 points, but by then it was too late against an Arkansas team in desperate need of a signature win, one that hasn't reached the NCAA tournament since 2008. The Razorbacks were then coached by current Florida assistant coach John Pelphrey, who entered Bud Walton Arena to handshakes and hugs Tuesday night before walking off the court with a stunning loss in his second return to his former home.
The win was Arkansas' first over a team ranked in the top 10 since victories over No. 4 Oklahoma and No. 7 Texas early in 2008-09, Pelphrey's second season.
Anderson took over last season, and his previous best win was over then-No. 15 Mississippi State.
Hunter Mickelson responded to Florida's second-half run with a putback for the Razorbacks, beginning a 16-3 run that opened the lead to 67-40 and put the game well out of reach. Coty Clarke closed out the run in emphatic fashion for Arkansas, flying high on the fast break to put down a one-handed dunk off an alley-oop pass from Ky Madden.
Arkansas, whose only home loss this season was to No. 9 Syracuse, owned the first half. The Razorbacks entered the game 12th in the SEC in 3-point shooting at 29.8 percent, but they opened the game 5 of 6 from behind the arc and built a 36-13 lead midway through the half.
Mardracus Wade and Young hit 3-pointers in the half for Arkansas, which easily sent Florida to its largest deficit of the season at 36-13. The most the Gators had trailed before Tuesday was 11 points in the first half of a loss against Kansas State, but they had no answer for an Arkansas team that opened the game 15 of 20 from the field.
Florida's winning streak was the school's longest since 2008-09. That included four straight SEC road games, and the Gators were attempting to win five straight conference games away from home for the first time in a season.
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