Big MSU second-half dooms Arkansas 77-67 Saturday

By Nate Allen Sports
FAYETTEVILLE – One of Arkansas worst ever second halves stretches at Walton Arena doomed the Razorbacks to a 77-67 SEC defeat Saturday night to the Mississippi State Bulldogs.
The Razorbacks, leading 38-32 at half and scoring the first two points of the second half on Daniel Gafford free throws, for a 40-32 lead, went cold and kept turning it over during a 23-1 Mississippi State run before Mason Jones, adding a free throw and one, tallied their first second half field goal at 11:33.
The Bulldogs assumed their largest lead, 16, 61-45, with 10:15.
Sophomore guard Jones, a game-leading 30 points, was about Arkansas’ whole show on a night when sophomore star center Gafford matched his season-low eight points and freshman normally sharp-shooting guard Isaiah Joe of Fort Smith Northside would only score five.
For violation of team rules, Howland announced Saturday the indefinite suspension of sophomore guard Nick Weatherspoon.
Nick Weatherspoon scored 22 points when the Bulldogs edged Arkansas, 78-75 last season in Starkville, Miss.
The Bulldogs didn’t miss younger brother Weatherspoon Saturday night at Walton. Senior guard and older brother Quinndary Weatherspoon, 22 points last season on Arkansas at Starkville, scored 22 again at Walton.
Tyson Carter, starting for Nick Weatherspoon, scored 18.
Reggie Perry, the 6-10 freshman booed at Walton because he first verbally committed to Arkansas then signed with Mississippi State, double-doubled with 12 points and 10 rebounds and Robert Woodard scored 10 off the Mississippi State.
Arkansas would make mini runs reducing the lead to nine but inevitably turn it over, 20 for the game and with 10 each half, commit a foul or not get a stop upon mounting the remotest threat until too little too late cutting the lead to 75-67 with 12 seconds left.
The loss drops Coach Mike Anderson’s Razorbacks to 14-11, 5-7 in the SEC going into Wednesday’s SEC game at Auburn.
Coach Ben Howland’s Bulldogs improve to 18-7, 6-6 in the SEC and visit Georgia in their Wednesday night SEC game.
Despite Gafford attempting but three first-half shots, hitting one trailing a Jones miss, Arkansas led, 38-32 at half.
Jalen Harris’ jumper with six seconds left in the half achieved the 38-32 lead before intermission.
Arkansas’ 38-32 lead was the biggest advantage of the half that the Razorbacks mostly led but the Bulldogs did lead as much as three and were up 27-26 before Gafford’s lone first-half bucket at 2:03.
Both teams were first-half sloppy committing 10 turnovers each but shot well. Arkansas shot 14 for 24 in the first half including 6 of 10 first-half led by Jones’ 4 of 6 for 12 first-half points. Joe and Keyshawn Embery-Simpson hit one first-half trey each.
The Bulldogs shot 11 of 25 from the first-half field field paced by guard Tyson Carter, starting in place of Nick Weatherspoon , and Robert Woodard off the bench each scoring eight.
Though taking but three first-half shots, Gafford still first half factored with four rebounds, two shot blocks, two steals and an assist against one turnover in 18 minutes.
Nobody but Jones much factored for Arkansas in the second half.
Gafford after his two free throws quickly fell into foul trouble with two quick fouls added to his first half foul.
This time the Hogs crumbled without him going to the bench at 18:09 and didn’t much reassemble upon his return at 14:14 even as he finished totaling 11 rebounds and blocked four shots.

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