Arkansas’ overtime struggles continue in loss

Arkansas appeared to have rid itself of its road struggles at

South Carolina on Wednesday night.

That is, until the Razorbacks’ overtime jinx trumped the road

woes.

Arkansas led by as many as nine points in the second half of the

eventual 81-74 loss to the Gamecocks, but the Razorbacks went 8:02

without a field goal to end regulation. They have now been

outscored 35-14 in three overtime losses this season.

Poor shooting has been a theme, with Arkansas connecting on just

6 of 20 shots in the three overtime periods. Making matters worse,

the Razorbacks have hit just 1 of 12 free throw attempts in the

three overtimes.

”We’ve got to play better in overtimes and hopefully play

better in regulation so we don’t have to get to overtime,”

Arkansas coach John Pelphrey said. ”We obviously have struggled

scoring the ball in overtime and our opponents have not.”

The Razorbacks (12-5, 2-2 SEC) are now 4-22 in conference road

games under Pelphrey. They will be put to the test once again at

Florida on Saturday.

On Wednesday, Arkansas led South Carolina 70-65 with 2:30

remaining after a pair of free throws by point guard Julysses

Nobles. However, with the Gamecocks blanketing leading scorer

Rotnei Clarke throughout the game, Arkansas struggled in the

closing minutes as South Carolina tied the game 70-70 and sent it

to overtime.

”Our last two to three possessions, it wasn’t like we were

turning it over or shooting air balls,” Pelphrey said. ”The

execution was pretty good, just the defense was better.”

Clarke, who is averaging 13 points per game and has connected on

70 of 171 3-pointers (41 percent) this season, was often unable to

get free against the Gamecocks. When he did, the 6-foot junior

faced constant pressure and finished 1 of 7 from the field.

”It’s hard,” Pelphrey said. ”Everybody understands that, but

by the same token, if they’re going to do those things with him, it

opens up opportunities for everybody else.”

Marshawn Powell and Nobles both benefitted from the attention

South Carolina paid to Clarke. Powell finished with a season-high

21 points and Nobles was able to get in the lane twice in the

closing minutes and the game tied.

The sophomore, one of the few Razorbacks who have shown the

ability to create their own shot, misfired both times.

Pelphrey said fatigue could also be a factor late in games. But

after Arkansas finished 3-0 in overtime games last season, the

coach isn’t concerned about the Razorbacks losing confidence.

”I tried to encourage those guys today to be the opposite,”

Pelphrey said. ”That what you’re doing is working. We just need a

little bit more from everybody. One or two more rebounds, one more

dive on the floor, one more free throw, one more block out.”

Arkansas’ first three SEC games were all decided by five points

or less. While it lost by seven in overtime to the Gamecocks,

Pelphrey was encouraged by a better effort than a loss at LSU and

said the Razorbacks had made progress.

”I’m not asking somebody to go from the eighth or ninth man on

the team to being a first-team all-league player,” Pelphrey said.

”That’s not what we’re looking for.

”We’re just looking for everybody to do another inch more.

We’re right there. We’re putting ourselves in a position to compete

and challenge for game down the stretch against some good teams,

now on the road.”