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Mississippi St. tops No. 22 Arkansas 78-75

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STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) Nick Weatherspoon scored 22 points, his brother Quinndary Weatherspoon added another 22 and Mississippi State upset No. 22 Arkansas 78-75 on Tuesday night.

Mississippi State (13-1, 1-0 Southeastern Conference) built off its best start during non-conference play in years, rallying for the win after trailing for much of the second half.

Arkansas (11-3, 1-1) was playing its first game in the AP’s national rankings since March 2015. The Razorbacks came in averaging more than 90 points per game, but Mississippi State slowed the pace and took a 32-28 lead into halftime.

Arkansas rallied to take the lead just after halftime and held the advantage for the majority of the second half. The Razorbacks shot a 64.5 percent in the second half, but it wasn’t enough.

Daryl Macon led Arkansas with 24 points while Daniel Gafford added 17.

BIG PICTURE

Mississippi State: It’s undeniably a big win for the Bulldogs, who look like they could be a factor in the Southeastern Conference race. Mississippi State had a big advantage at the free-throw line, with 40 attempts to Arkansas’ 12. The Bulldogs won despite shooting just 4 of 21 from 3-point range.

Arkansas: The Razorbacks looked like they had this game under control a few times during the second half, but they could never put away Mississippi State. Arkansas has another tough game this weekend against Auburn, which just beat Tennessee.

UP NEXT

Mississippi State travels to face Ole Miss on Saturday.

Arkansas travels to face Auburn on Saturday.

Controversial Flagrant 1 foul helps No. 8 seed Arkansas past No. 9 seed Seton Hall

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Turnovers and a late Flagrant 1 foul played a huge factor in the end as No. 8 seed Arkansas outlasted No. 9 seed Seton Hall, 77-71, on Friday afternoon during a first-round game in the South Region.

In a back-and-forth game in the final minutes, the Pirates committed two timely turnovers among 15 for the game as the Razorbacks capitalized with baskets off of both of them.

But the story of the game is a controversial Flagrant 1 foul called on Seton Hall’s Desi Rodriguez with 18 seconds left. With Seton Hall trailing by a point with under 30 seconds left, Rodriguez was attempting to quickly foul Arkansas’ Jaylen Barford to extend the game and send him to the free-throw line. Barford tripped over the foot of Rodriguez and tumbled to the floor as a foul was whistled, but the trip appeared to be incidental contact and not an intentional act by Rodriguez.

Referees went to the monitors and ruled it a Flagrant 1 on Rodriguez as Barford canned both free throws to make it a three-point Arkansas lead with 18 seconds left. After another Seton Hall foul, the Razorbacks split a pair of free throws to score three points on the trip to make it a two-possession game.

Here’s the Flagrant 1 that changed the course of the game.

The call on Rodriguez was later clarified during the NCAA Tournament studio show by NCAA National Coordinator of Men’s Basketball Officiating J.D. Collins as he explained the reasons the officials would make the Flagrant 1 call.

While Seton Hall has plenty to complain about with regards to this controversial call, they also have themselves to blame for turnovers in untimely situations. Khadeen Carrington had back-to-back turnovers that ended up being costly for Seton Hall in the final minute and their offense also sputtered for a long period of time down the stretch.

Seton Hall had plenty of chances to put away Arkansas but they could never put it out of reach. But the Flagrant 1 call also didn’t even give the Pirates a chance to tie when they deserved at least that much of a chance. This was a one-possession game for over five minutes until that Flagrant 1 possession pushed it to a four-point Arkansas lead.

The Pirates did plenty to squander opportunities down the stretch but Arkansas also deserves credit for a strong game.

Moses Kingsley had a huge day inside for the Razorbacks (26-9) as the senior big man had 23 points and six rebounds while Barford (20 points) had a key steal on Carrington and his go-ahead bucket with under a minute left was a huge play.

Dusty Hannahs also added 14 points for Arkansas while Dustin Thomas finished with 13 points.

Seton Hall (21-12) had a lot of momentum in the second half with an 18-5 run over a four-minute span but they squandered an eight-point lead. Carrington finished with 22 points while big man Angel Delgado added another double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds. Madison Jones scored 11 points for the Pirates while Myles Powell and Rodriguez each added 10 points for the Pirates.

Arkansas advances to face the winner of No. 1 seed North Carolina and No. 16 seed Texas Southern on Sunday in the second round.

Kentucky blows out Arkansas to claim SEC Tournament title

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Kentucky continued to look like one of the hottest teams in the country entering the NCAA tournament as the Wildcats rolled past Arkansas, 82-65, on Sunday afternoon to claim the SEC Tournament title.

Claiming the autobid from the SEC, the Wildcats (29-5) looked every bit like a national championship contender on Sunday as they extended their winning streak to 11 games by thoroughly outplaying Arkansas.

Continuing his strong recent play, freshman De’Aaron Fox paced Kentucky with 18 points while freshmen Bam Adebayo and Malik Monk had 17 points each. Senior Dominique Hawkins added 14 points as well in some solid bench minutes for Kentucky. A likely No. 2 seed in the 2017 NCAA tournament, Kentucky is going to be the type of team that no No. 1 seed wants to see on the other side of the bracket.

Playing as well as they have all season, Kentucky is getting great recent play from Fox and we know what Monk is capable of if he gets rolling. If Fox and Monk are playing this well then they have a chance to help carry Kentucky to a title as long as players like Adebayo and Derek Willis keep contributing in the front court.

Arkansas (25-9) was led by guard Daryl Macon with 18 points while Dusty Hannahs (14 points) and Jaylen Barford (13 points) also finished in double-figures. The Razorbacks tried to stay in this one but it was tough to mount any kind of momentum thanks to shooting only 22 percent (4-for-18) from three-point range.

Things got dicey in the final minutes for the Razorbacks in this one as senior Moses Kingsley was ejected with a flagrant 2 foul after aggressively fouling Fox with multiple hands to the face as he drove to the basket.

We’ll likely see the committee put Arkansas as an 8-through-11 seed as the Razorbacks have been playing pretty solid down the stretch but this was not a great effort against an elite team. While Arkansas could win their first game, it is difficult seeing them beating a top-tier team in the second round since they don’t have a top-25 win all season.

Arkansas lands 2018 forward to secure commitments from entire starting five of local AAU team

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Arkansas has protected its home territory well with younger players as the Razorbacks landed another quality pledge on Monday.

Four-star forward Ethan Henderson decided to commit to Arkansas as he announced his decision on Twitter.

Not only is Henderson a top-100 player in the Class of 2018, but he gives Arkansas four commitments in the Class of 2018 — and commitments from the entire starting five of the Arkansas Hawks 16U team.

Henderson is joined in the Class of 2018 by four-star forward Reggie Perry, three-star guard Desi Sills and three-star guard Isaiah Joe. Class of 2019 in-state guard Justice Hill, the other starter on that Arkansas Hawks team, is also pledged to the Razorbacks. Having commitments from five starters from the same AAU program is unprecedented in recruiting — especially when most college programs don’t have four commitments from the Class of 2017 yet.

Regarded as the No. 85 overall prospect in the Class of 2018, according to Rivals, Henderson is a nice fit for what head coach Mike Anderson wants to do as he moves well and rebounds at a high level.

With Anderson sitting on the hot seat due to a lack of NCAA tournament appearances, it’ll be interesting to see if this jump in recruiting helps with his job security. Obviously, winning and making postseason appearances is vital to Anderson retaining his job, but it will make the Arkansas athletic department think a little bit harder if they need to make a decision. Henderson and Perry are legitimate top-100 prospects and the Hawks have been one of the most successful AAU teams at that age group in the country the last few years so owning commitments from all of them certainly doesn’t hurt.

Arkansas gets commitment from four-star 2018 forward Reggie Perry

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Arkansas continued its recent recruiting momentum on Wednesday as four-star Class of 2018 forward Reggie Perry pledged to the Razorbacks with an announcement on Twitter.

The 6-foot-8 Perry is regarded as the No. 73 overall prospect in the country in the Rivals Class of 2018 national rankings. He becomes the second Arkansas commitment in the Class of 2018 after in-state, three-star guard Isaiah Joe.

Although head coach Mike Anderson has struggled for success that has led for some to put him on the hot seat, he’s recruiting at a high level right now.

Arkansas has three in-state commitments in the Class of 2017, headlined by a top-40 big man in Daniel Gafford. That class is considered top 10 in the country right now and the Razorbacks now have two commitments in the Class of 2018, including Perry.

Anderson has missed the NCAA tournament in four of five years at Arkansas, but if this year’s team showed progress with the kind of recruiting that he has coming in, would it be enough to keep his job? The Razorbacks are hoping to be successful enough to not answer that question, but Arkansas does have a decent future if all of these commitments ends up on campus.

Arkansas forward Kingsley withdraws name from NBA Draft

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Arkansas received some good news Monday afternoon, as junior power forward Moses Kingsley announced that he will withdraw his name from the NBA Draft and return to Fayetteville for his senior season. After playing sparingly in his first two seasons Kingsley took a major step forward in the Razorbacks’ first season without Bobby Portis, averaging 15.9 points, 9.3 rebounds and 2.4 blocks in 29.5 minutes per game.

Kingsley earned second team All-SEC and All-Defensive team honors as a result of his junior season, and in 2016-17 he’ll be the leader of a front court that should be better than it was this past season. Junior college all-american Arlando Cook joins the program, and Colorado transfer Dustin Thomas will be eligible to compete as well.

Rounding out the front court rotation will be redshirt sophomore Trey Thompson and incoming freshman Adrio Bailey, with the 6-foot-9 Thompson looking to improve upon the 3.1 points and 4.3 rebounds he averaged in 17 minutes per game last season.