Arkansas News Bureau
FAYETTEVILLE — The Arkansas basketball team won a Southeastern Conference road game. And the victory didn’t come at Auburn.
Sophomore Michael Qualls knocked down a 3-pointer to give the Razorbacks the lead in the closing seconds and Arkansas held on to beat Vanderbilt 77-75 in Memorial Gym on Saturday. It was the first SEC road win of the season for the Razorbacks and just the third in coach Mike Anderson’s three-year tenure.
“How about that win?” Anderson said during an interview on Arkansas’ postgame radio show. “I thought that was an unbelievable game. My hat is off to Vanderbilt. They have been really, really good basketball. But we saw a different team, a different passion to our basketball team.”
Arkansas — which wore its anthracite uniforms for the first time Saturday — led Vanderbilt most of the game and built as much as a nine-point lead after forward Coty Clarke knocked down a jump shot with 8:47 minutes remaining Saturday. But the Razorbacks went scoreless over the next six minutes, allowing Vanderbilt to go on a 12-0 run to take a 71-68 lead with 3:20 remaining.
Ky Madden (12 points) ended the drought with a 3-pointer with 2:21 remaining. He tied the game at 73-73 a minute later as well. Clarke (14 points) gave Arkansas a 74-73 lead by going 1-for-2 from the free-throw line with 25 seconds left.
But Vanderbilt responded when Kyle Fuller was fouled and made two free throws, helping the Commodores hold a 75-74 lead with 11 seconds remaining.
Then Qualls — who helped Arkansas beat Kentucky with a putback dunk at the buzzer last month — turned in his second game-winning play. Madden started the possession with the ball in his hands, began to drive to the basket and kicked the ball out to Qualls on the perimeter. The 3-pointer was Qualls’ third of the game.
Qualls, two games removed from a suspension, finished with a team-high 17 points.
“Ky made the right decision and got the ball to Mike and Mike knocked down a big one for us,” Anderson said.
Arkansas had to hold its breath for the final two seconds, though. Rod Odom – who finished with a game-high 22 points – got an open look from the perimeter. But his 3-point shot missed the mark as the Razorback celebrated the road win.
It helped Arkansas improve to 3-22 in road games under Anderson.
“I kidded our guys that maybe we need to have Walton Arena configured like this here so they don’t have to go look and listen to me and they can just go play,” Anderson said, referring to the unusual layout at Vanderbilt. “They played today.”
The Razorbacks will try to build on their newfound road success when they travel to Missouri on Thursday. It will be Anderson’s second trip back to face the program he led before leaving for Arkansas after the 2010-11 season.