STARKVILLE, Miss. (UofA) - Despite 16 points from freshman BJ Young, the University of Arkansas men's basketball team lost its final game of the regular season, 79-59, at Mississippi State on Saturday.
Arkansas ends the regular season with an 18-13 overall record, and a 6-10 mark in the Southeastern Conference. Mississippi State improves to 21-10 and 8-8 in league action. The Razorback loss drops them to the ninth-seed in the SEC Tournament, which begins on Thursday, March 8.
"Give Mississippi State credit," said Arkansas Head Coach Mike Anderson. "They are a good basketball team, and they did a good job of attacking us tonight."
The Razorbacks shot 50 percent from the field and made six three-pointers in the second half, but it was too little, too late. Arkansas trailed 37-23 at the half, and started with a 7-3 run to cut the Bulldogs' lead to 11, 41-30, with 15:14 left. Over the next five minutes, however, Mississippi State used a 16-5 run to take a commanding 57-35 lead with 10:08 remaining on the clock.
The Razorbacks got a flurry of three-pointers late in the game and outscored the Bulldogs 18-9 over the final five minutes, but the lead was too large to make a comeback. Young had nine of his points in those final five minutes, and freshman Rashad Madden and sophomore Mardracus Wade added three-pointers in the late run as well.
"Our young guys did not give up," Anderson said. "They kept fighting, and the tried to make things happen."
On senior night in Starkville, Arkansas was able to match the Bulldogs' intensity early on. The Razorbacks' highlight of the night came on a 6-0 run that ended with a fast-break dunk by sophomore Brandon Mitchell to tie the game 15-15 with 11:35 left in the first half.
"I thought we came out with good energy," Anderson said. "This was an emotional game, and early on it was back and forth. We had a lot of opportunities, and you've got to take advantage of your opportunities to win on the road."
Mississippi State responded with a 9-2 run of its own, getting 24 points in the paint in the first half to take its 37-23 lead at the break. Young scored Arkansas' first five points of the second half to help his team slim the lead to 41-30, but the Razorbacks could not cut the lead to single digits in the second half.
Sophomore Mardracus Wade scored 12 points for Arkansas, all on three-pointers, and Madden was also in double-digits with 10. Freshman Hunter Mickelson led Arkansas with six rebounds, and also blocked two shots. Freshman Devonta Abron scored eight points and had four rebounds for the Razorbacks, with six of the eight coming in the second half.
Despite the strong second half Arkansas shot just 41.8 percent for the game, while Mississippi State converted 51.8 percent from the floor.
Arnett Moultrie had 20 points and 10 rebounds for Mississippi State, and Brian Bryant added 15 points.
With the ninth-seed in the SEC Tournament, the Razorbacks return to action at 12 p.m. on Thursday, March 8, as they open the postseason against LSU at the New Orleans Arena in New Orleans, La. For more information about Razorback basketball, please log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com.