McRae rallies Tennessee past Arkansas 81-74
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Jordan McRae scored 34 points and made a 3-pointer that put Tennessee ahead for good with 2:46 remaining Wednesday as Tennessee defeated Arkansas 81-74 to continue the Razorbacks’ road woes.
Arkansas (12-6, 1-4 SEC) is 45-6 at home and 2-21 in true road games during Mike Anderson’s three-year coaching tenure. The Razorbacks fell to 0-3 in true road games this season Wednesday despite holding an eight-point lead in the second half.
Jeronne Maymon scored 17 points and Josh Richardson added 10 points for Tennessee (12-6, 3-2). Coty Clarke scored 16 points, Rashad Madden had 15, Fred Gulley had 11 and Kikko Haydar added 10 for Arkansas.
The game featured 10 ties and 15 lead changes.
Arkansas led 68-66 with 2:52 left when Haydar was called for an intentional foul on Maymon, who made both free throws to tie the game. McRae sank a go-ahead 3-pointer on Tennessee’s ensuing possession.
McRae’s 3-pointer was the only basket Tennessee made in the final 8 minutes, 18 seconds, but the Vols held on by dominating Arkansas from the free-throw line. Tennessee was 30 of 38 and Arkansas was 11 of 17 on free throws.
McRae’s 34 points were one off his career high. The senior guard scored 35 points last season in a 78-68 loss at Georgia.
Anderson altered his lineup Wednesday by giving Anthlon Bell his first start in SEC competition and ninth overall start of the season in place of Michael Qualls, who had been averaging a team-high 12.4 points per game. Qualls had been shooting just 19.6 percent in SEC competition and had gone 1 of 10 with just three points Saturday in a 66-61 loss at Georgia. He didn’t enter the game Wednesday until 5:46 remained in the first half and scored only one point.
This game looked like a favorable matchup for Tennessee because of Arkansas’ road woes and the Volunteers’ rebounding ability. The Vols entered the game leading the SEC with a plus-12.5 rebound margin in league competition. Arkansas had been outrebounded by 10.8 boards per game in SEC play to rank last in the league in that category.
But Arkansas was ahead for much of the game because it didn’t allow Tennessee to dominate the boards. Tennessee ended up outrebounding Arkansas 42-37, but Arkansas outscored the Vols 19-7 in second-chance points.
After trailing 39-37 at halftime, Arkansas went on a 9-0 run early in the second half that gave the Razorbacks a 59-51 lead with 14:34 remaining. Clarke, who had scored just two points in the first half, had 10 points in the first 4 minutes of the second half to help Arkansas seize the momentum.
Arkansas led 63-55 later in the second half before Tennessee went on an 8-0 run. The Vols finally started gaining control of the boards and capitalized on a pair of offensive rebounds to tie the score on Richardson’s 3-pointer with 8:19 left.
The lead went back and forth from there until Tennessee finally pulled away down the stretch.