STARKVILLE, Miss. (ArkansasRazorbacks.com) – Behind three players in double figures, including a career-high 19 points off the bench from sophomore Anthlon Bell, the Arkansas men's basketball team picked up its fifth win in the last six games with a 73-69 victory at Mississippi State on Saturday afternoon at Humphrey Coliseum.
The Razorbacks never trailed over the final 32:19 of the game and led by as many as 15 in the second half en route to snapping a 12-game losing streak at Humphrey Coliseum. With four regular season games remaining, Arkansas (18-9) is part of a six-way tie for fifth place in the SEC at 7-7 that could become a seven-way tie for fourth place depending on the outcome of Missouri at Alabama.
Needing a hot start to pick up its second road win in the last three trips – loss was a one-point defeat at Missouri – Arkansas came out on fire, hitting five of its first six from the field, including four from three-point range to take a 14-8 lead before the first media timeout.
Mississippi State took the lead back for a 21-second span and Arkansas held a slim 23-21 edge with 9:45 left in the first half before Bell burst onto the scene with 10 straight points for the Razorbacks to push the lead to 35-24. Bell's 10 points came over a span of 1:59, as he had 12 points by the under-eight media timeout after going the first 13 SEC games without reaching double figures.
The Bulldogs cut the Arkansas advantage to one, 39-38, early in the second half but could never take the lead as a 13-3 run midway through the period gave the visitors a commanding 70-56 lead. Fittingly, Bell had seven of the points during the run, but it was highlighted by a steal and dunk in transition by 6-foot-10 freshman Moses Kingsley in front of a large group of family and friends.
Arkansas' lead dwindled down to five, 73-68, with 2:28 remaining, but it was able to limit the Bulldogs to just three possessions the rest of the way due a big offensive rebound by senior Coty Clarke with 1:32 left to secure the win.
Though Bell's team-high 19 points off the bench were a huge boost, Clarke put together another solid all-around game with nine rebounds and a career-high seven assists, which is the most by a Razorback this season. Sophomore Michael Qualls extended his double figure scoring streak to an SEC career-long five games with 15 points, while freshman Bobby Portis continued his steady play in the middle with 13 points, seven boards, three blocks and two steals.
Four players reached double-digits for Mississippi State (13-14, 3-11), including leading scorer Craig Sword who was held to 10 points after a career-high 33 last time out at LSU.