|Updated: 2/25/2012 6:11 pm
||Published: 2/25/2012 6:08 pm
AUBURN, AL – The University of Arkansas men's basketball team came back from a 17 point deficit at Auburn on Saturday afternoon, storming back to earn its first road victory of the year, 77-71, against the Tigers inside Auburn Arena.
Arkansas improves to 18-11, 6-8 in the Southeastern Conference, while Auburn falls to 14-14, 4-10 in the league, and drops just its third home game of the season.
“Hats off to Auburn, they made shots from all over and that got us down early,” said Arkansas Head Coach Mike Anderson. “In order to win you have to make shots down the stretch, and we did that today.”
Arkansas trailed 35-18 with 6:19 left in the first half and were down 41-34 at the break.
Sophomore Rickey Scott had 22 points, with 18 coming in the first half, as well as six rebounds and five assists. Sophomore Mardracus Wade added 18 with three three-pointers. Freshman BJ Young, who was held scoreless in the first half, knocked down two free throws with 3:03 remaining, and then scored back-to-back layups under pressure to give Arkansas the lead for good with just over two minutes left. He finished with 10 points.
In a first half of runs, Arkansas made its first two shots of the game and took a 5-2 lead early, but Auburn responded immediately, jumping out to a 27-11 lead with 9:27 left in the first half after a 25-6 run.
The deficit reached 17 points with 6:19 left in the first half, but the Razorbacks cut down their turnovers and picked up the defense to mount a run of their own. Spurred by Scott’s aggressiveness on offense, Arkansas ended the first half on a 16-6 run. Wade finished the half by drawing a foul behind the three-point line and made two-of-three from the line to help
Arkansas trail by just seven, 41-34, at the half.
“I liked the way that we didn’t go away,” Anderson said. “I thought that Rickey Scott carried us for a while in the first half.”
Arkansas got a spark from sophomore forward Brandon Mitchell in the second half to continue its run. Mitchell finished with 10 points, six rebounds and three assists, with eight of his points coming in the second half. He and Wade combined for Arkansas’ first 12 points after halftime, with Wade hitting two threes and two free throws, and Mitchell maneuvering inside for two layups.
Mitchell also scored back-to-back layups with 6:31 left in the game to bring Arkansas within two, 62-60.
“Auburn is physical, and we matched that today,” Anderson said.
The Razorbacks took their first lead since leading 5-4 early on, when junior Julysses Nobles followed Mitchell’s layup with a three-pointer to put Arkansas ahead 63-62 with 5:52 remaining in the game. The lead changed four more times after Nobles’ jumper, before Young’s scoring streak put Arkansas ahead for good.
Arkansas shot 26-for-48 from the field in the game for 54.2 percent, and the Razorbacks nailed 78.3 percent of their free throws. Freshman Rashad Madden showed poise down the stretch to shoot 4-for-4 from the line in the final minute and help put the game away.
Auburn had four players score in double figures, and shot 54.2 percent, 13-of-24, from the free throw line.
The Razorbacks improve to 2-0 at Auburn Arena, and sweep the season series with Auburn after a 56-53 home victory on Jan. 25.
Arkansas is back at Bud Walton Arena for its final home game of the year on Tuesday night for a 6 p.m. game against Ole Miss.