Free throws help Arkansas outlast Tennessee 82-78

Tennessee's Robert Hubbs III (3) attempts a shot past Arkansas' Moses Kingsley (33) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Knoxville, Tenn., Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017. (Brianna Paciorka/Knoxville News Sentinel via AP)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Daryl Macon never felt jittery.

Each time Arkansas attempted a free throw with a road game on the line Tuesday night, Macon knew in his heart he’d deliver. The junior guard was at a place where he feels completely comfortable – the foul line.

Macon was 8 of 8 on free throws in the final 54 seconds as Arkansas erased a 13-point deficit and withstood a late Tennessee comeback in an 82-78 victory over the Volunteers.

”I wasn’t nervous, not even a little bit,” Macon said. ”That’s something I work on. There’s nothing to be nervous about.”

Macon’s performance improved his free-throw percentage for the season to 90.6 percent. He made just one basket all night but was 12 of 13 from the line to finish with 15 points.

”I don’t really care about those stats,” Macon said. ”We won the game. I could have had two points, but I’d still have this feeling that I have right now.”

Arkansas (12-2, 1-1 SEC) has beaten Tennessee (8-6, 1-1) five straight times for the longest winning streak by either team in the 38-game history of this series.

Tennessee came up short in a bid for its first 2-0 start in conference play since 2010. Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said he noticed his team wasn’t sharp enough in its pregame shootaround as his freshman-laden roster tried to build on its 73-63 victory at Texas A&M last week.

”I just still don’t think we value winning enough,” Barnes said.

Tennessee guard Robert Hubbs III sensed the same thing.

”We weren’t focused,” said Hubbs, who scored a game-high 21 points. ”We won the game at Texas A&M, but we’ve got to move on. We’ve got to have everybody locked in. Our pregame shootaround is like a rehearsal, you’re rehearsing what you are doing for the game.”

Tennessee still almost found a way to win.

The Vols trailed 71-64 with 2:52 left when Arkansas’ Moses Kingsley missed the front end of a one-and-one to set the stage for a Tennessee rally. Tennessee got to within 71-70 with 1:50 remaining when Hubbs dunked on a fastbreak after Grant Williams blocked a Kingsley shot on the other end of the floor.

Tennessee cut the lead to one again on Detrick Mostella’s 3-point play with 24.7 seconds left, but Macon went 6 of 6 on free throws the rest of the way to seal the victory.

”I’m proud of our guys and the effort and intensity they played with, the poise they had in a tough environment,” Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said.

Anton Beard led Arkansas with 16 points off the bench. Jaylen Barford scored 14 points and Dusty Hannahs added 13.

Mostella had 16 points for Tennessee. Williams added 15 points and 11 rebounds.

THE BIG PICTURE

Arkansas: The Razorbacks’ 15-0 run midway through the game that allowed them to take command shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise. Arkansas has thrived on these kinds of spurts all season. Arkansas entered this game having scored at least 10 straight points on 13 different occasions this year.

Tennessee: The Vols held Kingsley in check, as the SEC preseason player of the year had just seven points to go along with 10 rebounds and shot 3 of 10 from the floor. But a balanced Arkansas attack proved too much for the Vols to handle.

MOMENTUM SWINGS

This game featured two big changes in momentum – one right after the other.

Tennessee grabbed a 39-26 lead late in the first half by going on a 14-0 run as Arkansas went scoreless for a stretch of 5 minutes, 20 seconds. Arkansas responded by reeling off 15 straight points in a spurt that began in the last three minutes of the first half and carried over to the opening minute of the second half.

NEXT UP

Arkansas visits No. 6 Kentucky on Saturday.

Tennessee is at No. 24 Florida on Saturday.

More AP College Basketball: http://collegebasketball.ap.org

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