Rod Hall rallies Clemson past No. 18 Arkansas in OT
Clemson coach Brad Brownell wasn’t sure how long it would take his team to get over a second-half collapse Monday against Rutgers. Turns out, it took just one game.
The Tigers rallied from six points down in the final minute to force overtime, then went on to defeat No. 18 Arkansas 68-65 on Sunday.
Rod Hall scored 11 of his 19 points in the final minute of regulation and overtime to rally Clemson (5-3). Brownell wasn’t sure what might happen after his team blew a seven-point lead in the final eight minutes in falling to the Scarlet Knights 69-64 at home earlier this week.
"I was really disappointed with the Rutgers game," Brownell said. "It really bothered me."
So there wasn’t much hope when Clemson found itself trailing 57-51 with a minute to go. That’s when Hall led the comeback with two layups to draw the Tigers within a basket. Rashad Madden coughed up the ball again for Arkansas, and Jaron Blossomgame made a layup to tie the game at 57-57.
Blossomgame said the team wasn’t worried about its past failures during the rally. "I think we put Rutgers behind us," he said. "We had three days of tough practices competing against each other. Coach made it really tough for us."
Hall said the team had lost games because of its effort and the players made sure that wouldn’t be the case this time. "That was the key to the game," he said.
Hall started the extra period with a 3-pointer to put Clemson ahead for good.
Michael Qualls hit a 3-pointer to bring Arkansas within 68-65 with 1:01 to play. But that was as close as the Razorbacks (6-2) would get.
Qualls had 21 points and Portis 18 for Arkansas, which has lost its second straight after opening with six consecutive wins.
"Once it got in overtime, momentum kind of shifted," Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said. "But it wasn’t because of lack of effort. We just didn’t finish the way that we’re capable of."
Blossomgame added 17 points for Clemson.
This one certainly looked like a defeat for Clemson after Arkansas overcame a nine-point deficit to lead by as many as eight points down the stretch.
Arkansas had a chance to get closer in overtime down 68-65, but Alandise Harris missed a layup and Qualls was short on a 3-pointer in the final seconds.
The matchup featured one of the country’s top offenses in Arkansas against a Clemson team that hangs its hat on defense — the Tigers were fifth nationally last year in points given up.
And it was defense that won out early as the Razorbacks were held to their fewest points in a half this season.
Clemson led 29-20 after Hall’s 3-pointer with 2:02 left in the opening period. But Michael Qualls scored the final five points of the half, including a three-point play, to trim Clemson’s margin to 29-25 at the break.
Similar shooting woes that doomed Clemson against Rutgers cropped up again as the Tigers made only two of their final 12 shots of the half.
Clemson improved to 2-0 against Southeastern Conference this season, the Arkansas win coming after a 64-61 victory over LSU at the Paradise Jam last month. The Tigers next two games are also against SEC teams, at home Dec. 14 against Auburn and at South Carolina on Dec. 19.
The Razorbacks lost their offensive flow for stretches against the defensive-minded Tigers. Arkansas shot 39.1 percent in the opening half and made just 3 of 9 shots in overtime. It was the first time the Razorbacks were held under 77 points this season.
Arkansas: The Razorbacks have spent consecutive weeks in the national rankings for the first time since December 2000, a streak that could come to end after consecutive defeats.
Clemson: The game with the Razorbacks is the start of three straight contests facing Southeastern Conference opponents for the Tigers. Clemson takes on Auburn at home Sunday before heading to face rival South Carolina on Dec. 19.