FAYETTEVILLE, AR (UofA) - Behind a first half offensive explosion and execution down the stretch, the University of Arkansas men's basketball team knocked off #19 Michigan 66-64 Saturday afternoon at Bud Walton Arena in front of a season-high 19,050 fans.
The Razorbacks improve to 14-5 overall and 14-0 at home, while Michigan drops to 15-5. The Razorback victory is Arkansas' second over a top 20 opponent at Bud Walton Arena this season.
With a slim two-point lead and just over a minute to play, freshman BJ Young blocked a shot on the defensive end and then then found freshman Hunter Mickelson with a nifty pass off a pick and roll as the shot clock ran out. Mickelson converted a tough shot in the lane, giving Arkansas a 66-62 lead that they would hold for the final 42 seconds of play.
Michigan had possession of the ball down two with a chance to tie, but Arkansas came up with the stop as Trey Burke's three-pointer at the buzzer rattled off the rim.
"I thought it was a great game," said Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson. "This was a good win for our team and for our program."
Mickelson made Arkansas' final two baskets, the first a jumper with 3:20 to play to turn a two-point lead into four, 64-60. Young poured in a gritty 15 points to lead Arkansas in scoring for the eighth time this season.
In front of a frenzied crowd, the Razorbacks got off to a scorching 11-for-11 start from the field to take a 29-10 lead with 10:24 left in the first half. The run included three-pointers by Mardracus Wade, Julysses Nobles, Young and Rashad Madden. The Wolverines slowly closed the gap over the next ten minutes, cutting the Arkansas lead to 13 points at the half, 46-33, on a Zack Novak three-pointer.
"We couldn't have had a better start to the game," Anderson said. "This was a confidence boost for our team."
Arkansas started the second half the way it started the first half - with a Wade three-pointer - but ten straight points by Michigan cut the lead to 49-43 with 15:14 to play.
The Razorbacks battled back, spurred by the toughness of Young. The freshman got a steal and rose up for a dunk attempt with 13:42 to go, but was undercut by Novak and fell hard to the floor. Young left the game, but shook off the pain and was back in immediately to help push the Razorbacks to victory.
"I thought our young guys played their hearts out," Anderson said. "We really bounced back in a positive way."
Using a 12-1 run late in the game, Michigan cut the Arkansas lead to two points three times in the final four minutes. The Razorbacks, however, never allowed the Wolverines to tie the game or take the lead.
Young scored his 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting from the floor, and added four rebounds and three assists. Mickelson scored 11 points including the biggest two baskets of his career down the stretch, and blocked two shots.
Wade and sophomore Rickey Scott were both in double figures for Arkansas with 12 and 11 points respectively. Scott added six rebounds and four assists, both team-highs.
Novak led Michigan with 17 points on 5-of7 shooting from behind the arc. Jordan Morgan and Trey Burke had 16 and 13 points respectively.
The Razorbacks return to Southeastern Conference action Wednesday, Jan. 25 with an 8 p.m. contest against Auburn inside Bud Walton Arena. For more information about Razorback basketball, please log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com.