No. 16 Vanderbilt 89, Arkansas 72
Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings had never won in Bud Walton Arena before the 16th-ranked Commodores beat Arkansas 89-72 on Saturday.
He had brought teams to Fayetteville five times with the same result, giving extra meaning to Vanderbilt's second win in Fayetteville in school history. Stallings even got a high-five during his post-game news conference from Jeffery Taylor, who led Vandy with 18 points.
``I asked them if they'd get me off the schnide here, and they did it,'' Stallings said.
Taylor led a balanced offense that helped the Commodores (22-6, 11-3 SEC) move within one game of first-place Kentucky in the Eastern Division. A.J. Ogilvy scored 14 points, John Jenkins and Brad Tinsley each had 13, and Darshawn McClellan added 11.
Vanderbilt scored the first six points of Saturday's contest - the Razorbacks committed turnovers on their first three possessions - and led from start to finish.
The Commodores shot 53.3 percent from the field, including 65.4 in the first half, and led 45-35 at halftime. Vanderbilt also hit 20 of 23 free throws.
``They got on a quick run and that gave them a lot of confidence early,'' Arkansas' Rotnei Clarke said. ``They executed really well, and we could've been better on the defensive end. They moved the ball well, ran the motion offense well and they just hit shots.''
Arkansas got within 18-13, but the Commodores responded with a 15-6 spurt to take their largest lead of the first half. Taylor drained a 19-footer and Jermaine Beal dropped in a runner to put Vanderbilt up 33-19 with 7:06 left in the half.
The Commodores made 13 of their first 20 shot attempts overall.
``Offensively I thought we seemed very in sync, very together and very purposeful,'' Stallings said. ``We were able to get baskets inside early and that opened up some things from the perimeter. I thought we played really well offensively and followed the game plan.''
Marshawn Powell kept Arkansas (14-15, 7-7) in the game by scoring 21 of his game-high 27 points before halftime. Consecutive baskets inside trimmed Vanderbilt's lead to 43-35.
Vanderbilt primarily played zone defense after halftime, however, limiting Powell to six points the rest of the way and frustrating Courtney Fortson. Arkansas' point guard finished 3 of 15 from the floor with eight points, eight assists and five turnovers.
``Powell just killed us in the first half, and we did a much better job on him in second half,'' Stallings said. ``He jumps off the TV screen at you when you watch tape of him.''
The Commodores, who recorded their best shooting percentage since Jan. 23, kept up their stellar offensive effort after halftime. Meanwhile, the Razorbacks misfired on 18 of their first 21 shots in the second half.
Vanderbilt increased its lead to 71-47 on Jenkins' 10-foot jumper with 9:07 left.
``It was another tough day for us,'' Arkansas coach John Pelphrey said. ``Our concerns kind of came true as far as having to guard them. They have a great mix of players, a lot of offensive weapons, and they made it difficult for us.''
The Razorbacks have lost four of their last four contests after a five-game winning streak had catapulted them to first place in the SEC West. It was their worst home loss since falling 73-51 to Auburn on Jan. 24, 2009.
Mike Washington played 22 minutes for Arkansas despite a sprained right ankle. He hurt the ankle Tuesday in practice, missed Wednesday's loss at LSU and opened this game on the bench.
Washington started the second half and finished with 11 points and 13 rebounds. Clarke added 14 points for the Razorbacks.
``We may have caught them at a fortuitous time with Washington being less than 100 percent,'' Stallings said.
Nonetheless, Vanderbilt's coach seemed pleased about not having any more questions about winning in Fayetteville.
``It's going to be nice to not have to come over here and wonder if I'll ever get a win,'' he said. ``But if my teams had played like this before, we would've won here before.''