Baton Rouge, LA (AP) — LSU made no field goals in the final nine minutes of its 56-53 Southeastern Conference victory against Arkansas on Wednesday night. But Tigers coach Trent Johnson was still quite satisfied with coming away with a second straight league win.
"That's a good win," Johnson said. "Like a good team, Arkansas made a run and we kept our poise. We had the opportunity to put them away at the free-throw line, but we didn't. But it was a good win for us."
LSU's last eight points came at the foul line. Matt Derenbecker made the Tigers' final field goal with 9:10 left. LSU (10-7, 2-0) entered the last 60 seconds with a 53-49 lead. However, the Tigers made only 3 of 8 foul shots in the final minute.
Eddie Ludwig sank one of two free throws with 10 seconds left to give the Tigers a 56-53 lead. Jeff Peterson missed a tying 3-pointer for the Razorbacks with 1 second to go.
"We're finding a way to win," said Derenbecker, who finished with 12 points and six rebounds. "We're finding a way to hold on and that is all that matters."
Arkansas (11-4, 1-1) trailed by 18 early in the second half, but pulled within three at 48-45 on Delvon Johnson's basket with 3:06 left. Julysses Nobles' two free throws left the Razorbacks behind 49-47 with 2:20 to play.
Andre Stringer's four foul shots pushed LSU's lead to six with 1:20 remaining. However, the Tigers missed 4 of 6 foul shots to give Arkansas a chance. Marshawn Powell's two field goals for the Razorbacks made it 55-53 with 11 seconds remaining.
Malcolm White led LSU with 13 points, Garrett Green had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Stringer had 11 points and a season-high seven assists.
Powell led the Razorbacks with 15 points. Johnson contributed 10 points. Rotnei Clarke, Arkansas' leading scorer, finished with five points — nine below his season average. Clarke was 1-of-7 from the field.
"We really struggled scoring the basketball in the first half," Arkansas coach John Pelphrey said. "You have to give LSU credit for that. They were very aggressive. We got ourselves into a situation where one or two plays could have gotten us a tie game or even win it. But that didn't happen."
Arkansas made just five field goal attempts in the first half as it fell behind 31-17. The Razorbacks missed eight of their nine 3-point attempts. In addition, LSU outrebounded Arkansas 30-14 in the opening 20 minutes.
The Tigers built a comfortable advantage during a three-minute stretch in the opening half. Holding a three-point lead with 11 minutes remaining in the half, LSU went on a 12-2 run.
White made three baskets during that stretch. Derenbecker sank a couple of buckets and Green had one field goal as the Tigers went ahead 24-11. The only Razorbacks points came on a field goal by Nobles. Arkansas failed to score in the final 4:26 before halftime.
After falling behind by 18 points in the first four minutes of the second half, the Razorbacks came to life on offense. Six points by Johnson on two field goals and two free throws sparked a 12-2 run. A 3-pointer by Clarke put Arkansas behind 41-33 with 12:40 left in the game.
The Razorbacks found themselves down by just six points at 44-38 after Marcus Britt converted a three-point play with 10:39 remaining. Baskets by Green and Derenbecker pushed LSU's lead out to 10 points. But five consecutive points by Powell cut the Tigers advantage in half at 48-43.