MSU Blows One At Arkansas

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) _ Kendrick Davis was not the most likely suspect to take over the final two minutes of Arkansas' 53-51 victory over No. 20 Mississippi State on Saturday. When Mississippi State took a 51-45 lead with 2:18 left in the game, Davis was 1-of-5 from the field with three points. Davis' three-point play with 25 seconds remaining capped an 8-0 Arkansas run in which the freshman hit a 3-pointer, and picked up an assist on a 17-footer by Dionisio Gomez before a winning drive to the basket. ``I just drove in to try and get a foul,'' Davis said. ``I just tried to jump into him and I knew I had to get a shot off and it went in for me.'' The left-handed Davis drove down the lane, took two big steps, drew a blocking foul on Mississippi State's Ontario Harper and banked in a layup with his right hand. The resulting free throw gave Arkansas (9-16, 4-10 Southeastern Conference) a 53-51 lead, its first since 8-6 early in the game. Davis finished with 9 points. ``He came in kind of cold, but he was willing to take a couple of big shots,'' Arkansas coach Stan Heath said. ``I hadn't seen him make one all year right-handed, so it was good to see it happen in a game. I'm not sure he knew he had a right hand.''

Mario Austin, who was held to five points, missed a shot with about 5 seconds remaining, but Mississippi State (18-7, 8-6) got the ball back for one more shot after it glanced off a Razorback with 3.3 seconds remaining. Timmy Bowers' shot to tie was tipped by forward Larry Satchell to give Arkansas consecutive victories for the first time since a four-game winning streak in December. Eric Ferguson led Arkansas with 15 points, but Satchell kept Austin in check while the Razorbacks senior had one of his best games of the season. He finished with season highs of 10 points and four blocks and tied a season high with nine rebounds. ``I was just playing defense and I was just trying to keep him out of his rhythm,'' Satchell said. ``He's a big, strong post player used to catching and shooting and I just tried to keep him from doing that.'' Austin had 19 points and 12 rebounds when Mississippi State beat Arkansas 84-54 on Feb. 8. On Saturday, he was just 2-of-6 from the field, with one trip to the free throw line and just one rebound. ``We did a poor job getting the ball down to Mario Austin,'' Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury said. ``We didn't do a good job of getting in transition in the second half, making it hard to get easy baskets.'' Bowers had 24 points for the Bulldogs, who fell to 0-11 in Fayetteville since the Razorbacks joined the SEC in 1991. Mississippi State's only win in Fayetteville came in 1970. ``We went out and fought tonight,'' Davis said. ``We didn't fight at all in that first game.'' Arkansas' victory kept Mississippi State from clinching at least a tie for the Western Division title. Auburn's 73-70 loss to No. 4 Florida on Saturday gave the Bulldogs a chance at their first division title since 1995-96 when they went on to the Final Four. Arkansas trailed 41-30 when Heath called a timeout with 12:21 left in the game. The Razorbacks went on an 11-3 run over the next 3:29 with two 3-pointers from Ferguson and one from Jonathon Modica, who had eight points and seven rebounds. ``I knew there was a timeout coming at the 12-minute mark, but with that lead getting pushed to (11), I really felt we needed to regroup and come back out with something that could give us a good look and play with some more intensity in our defense,'' Heath said. ``All those things happened and that run put us in position to win the game.'' Derrick Zimmerman's 3-pointer briefly gave Mississippi State a 12-point lead at 44-32 at the start of Arkansas' run. ``Any time you are up 12 and lose, you gave the game away,'' Zimmerman said. ``That's what we did today.'' Mississippi State pushed its lead back to 51-45 when Michal Ignerski made a 3-pointer as the shot clock was about to expire with 2:16 left in the game. Davis countered with a 3-pointer on the next trip down the floor and Arkansas forced Harper into his second turnover in two minutes with 1:50 to go. Mississippi State made just eight turnovers in the game, but three came in the final three minutes. Dionisio Gomez hit a 17-footer after the turnover and Davis' layup was set up by the Bulldogs' eighth and final turnover on an inbounds mistake. Bowers hit his first four 3-pointers as Mississippi State built a 30-22 halftime lead. He only took one 3-pointer in the second half, when the Bulldogs made only 8-of-21 from the field.