KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Arkansas freshman guard Anton Beard missed three free throws with 5.1 second left and Tennessee used a much-improved offense to upset the No. 19 Razorbacks 74-69 Tuesday night at Thompson-Boling Arena.
Arkansas hit three three-pointers in the final 45 seconds of the game to help it rally from a big deficit to have a chance at the end, but Beard, who was fouled attempting a three-pointer with Arkansas (13-3, 2-1 SEC) trailing 72-69 with 5.1 left, missed three straight from the line as Tennessee (10-5, 2-1) held on.
Three days after connecting on just 14 field goals in a 56-38 home loss against Alabama, Tennessee’s offense was vastly improved as the Vols shot 50.9 percent.
Arkansas was held without a field goal for seven minutes of the second half and Tennessee used a 21-7 run to turn a one-point halftime lead into a 16-point lead midway through the second half.
Tennessee had three players score at least 14 points. Senior guard Josh Richardson, who scored 17 of the 38 points against Alabama on Saturday, had 20 on Tuesday. Sophomore guard Robert Hubbs III had 16 and junior forward Armani Moore had 14.
Arkansas struggled against the Vols’ matchup zone and committed 18 turnovers. Tennessee scored 27 points off those turnovers and outscored the Razorbacks 40-32 in the paint.
Razorbacks sophomore forward Bobby Portis, the reigning SEC Player of the Week after averaging 26.5 points in two wins last week, scored 17 points and had 11 rebounds.
Arkansas used a 7-0 run, including four points from junior guard Michael Qualls, and pulled within 54-45 with 6:19 left. Then, after the Vols pushed their lead to 61-47 with a little more than five minutes remaining, Arkansas used an 11-2 run to make it 63-58 with 1:26 left.
Tennessee shot 47 percent in the first half and led 33-31 at the break. Tennessee scored 10 of its first 16 points off five Arkansas turnovers and outscored the Razorbacks 22-10 in the paint in the first 20 minutes.
A 3-pointer from Hubbs two minutes into the game put Tennessee ahead 7-4, and the Volunteers wouldn’t trail the rest of the half.
A dunk from junior forward Derek Reese and another 3-pointer from Hubbs were part of a 9-3 Tennessee run that gave it a 16-7 lead with 13:55 left in the first half.
Arkansas responded with eight unanswered points, including a 3-pointer from junior guard Anthlon Bell to tie the game at 16, but Tennessee answered with a 9-2 spurt and led 25-18 with 7:45 left in the half.
Portis scored six points during a three-minute stretch late in the first half and Beard hit a last-second three-pointer pulling the Razorbacks within one at the half.
Richardson scored 10 points in the first half on 4-of-5 shooting and Hubbs added nine for the Volunteers.
Portis scored eight in the first half for the Razorbacks. Arkansas had eight players score in the first half and shot 41 percent.
NOTES: Tennessee senior G Josh Richardson has scored at least 15 points in 12 of the Volunteers’ 15 games this season … Over the last six games before Tuesday, Tennessee has held opponents to 53.7 points per game. … Arkansas’ RPI ranking heading into Tuesday game was 14. Tennessee’s was 71. … Arkansas’ plus-4.9 turnover margin leads the SEC. … The Razorbacks are 11-0 when forcing at least 15 turnovers and are 8-0 when scoring at least 80 points. They did neither on Tuesday.
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