Feb. 25, 2006
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Arkansas followed up big wins over Florida and Alabama with an even bigger one.
Darian Townes scored 15 points and Jonathon Modica added 14 to help the Razorbacks rally to beat No. 10 Tennessee 73-69 on Saturday afternoon.
The Razorbacks (19-8, 8-6 Southeastern Conference) handed Tennessee (20-5, 11-3) its first loss at home this season, and further bolstered their case for an NCAA tournament bid. They also might have taken some pressure off coach Stan Heath.
"We haven't exactly been killing people on the road, so a win against the best team or the top two team in the league is really a credit to our team," Heath said. "I'm just really proud of the way they never quit, the way they never stopped fighting."
The Razorbacks improved to 2-5 on the road this year. They dropped the five games by a total of 11 points.
After losing 73-70 at Mississippi on Feb. 15, Arkansas got back-to-back wins at home over Florida in overtime last weekend and Alabama by two Tuesday.
"We battled all season long. We've had a lot of tough games that didn't go our way. The last three have fortunately gone in our favor," Heath said.
"It just shows you we've been right there all season long. I think I should get a medal for coaching in more close games than anybody in the country except maybe Notre Dame."
Eric Ferguson added 12 points while Charles Thomas had 11 and Vincent Hunter had 10 for Arkansas, which outrebounded Tennessee 45-24. All of the Vols' losses have come against teams with bigger post players.
Tennessee had clinched at least a share of the SEC East title with a win at Florida earlier this week. The Vols have pulled out close games by outmaneuvering and wearing down their opponents down the stretch. This time, Arkansas did it to them.
"In the second half, Arkansas clearly was fresher. We did not have the energy to speed things up," Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl said. "We did not turn Arkansas over a lot. It takes energy to create offense or defense, and we needed more energy."
Trailing by 14 with 8:49 left, the Razorbacks made a late charge with a 15-0 run that included seven points by Townes. Ferguson's 3 with 4:13 left put Arkansas up 64-63, the Razorbacks' first lead of the second half.
Chris Lofton ended Tennessee's drought with a 3 for a brief lead with 3:53 to go, but Thomas and Townes scored consecutive baskets to give the lead back to Arkansas.
The Vols fouled to stop the clock, and Modica hit two free throws with 25.8 seconds remaining. Tennessee had a chance to tie, but Smith missed a 3. Ferguson added another free throw to seal it with 10.6 seconds left.
C.J. Watson led the Vols with 17 points. Lofton added 12 and Smith had 11.
Ronnie Brewer, who leads the SEC in scoring at 18.5 points a game, was held to nine points. He said the team hasn't given up all season.
"I feel like we owe it to our seniors, Coach Heath and the university and the people of Arkansas to go out there and give it everything we've got," Brewer said.
The Vols stretched their lead to 11 with a 7-0 run early in the second half. Arkansas threatened to make its own run and cut it to six with 11:38 remaining after a three-point play by Townes and a basket by Hunter. But 24 seconds later, Tennessee was back in control.
Bradshaw scored and then got a steal that led to Lofton's 3 that put the Vols up 58-47 and started a 10-2 run. Watson finished it with a high-arching 3-pointer that barely beat the shot clock, and Tennessee was ahead 63-49.