ATLANTA, Ga. – In a game that featured 21 lead changes,
including 18 in the second half, No. 5 seed Arkansas dropped a
heart-breaking 71-69 setback to No. 13 seed South Carolina in the second
round of the SEC Tournament on Thursday at the Georgia Dome.
Besides a nine-second stretch in the second half, neither team trailed by more than one possession over the final 20 minutes, which eventually led to South Carolina leading 70-69 with 16 seconds left and Arkansas holding the ball. Following a timeout, the Razorbacks worked the ball around before finding freshman Bobby Portis deep in the middle of the paint, but his jump hook caromed off the back of the rim and was rebounded by South Carolina.
The Gamecock hit the second of two free throws with 2.9 seconds left to make it 71-69, giving the Razorbacks a shot to tie or win the game. Following another timeout, Arkansas got the ball to junior Rashad Madden who worked his way past half court for a deep but good look from three but his game-winning attempt was just off as the final horn sounded.
Madden was one of four players in double figures, as Arkansas now stands at 21-11 overall and will await its postseason destiny until Sunday night during the NCAA Selection Show. South Carolina (13-19) advances to take on No. 4 seed Tennessee in the quarterfinals.
Senior Coty Clarke led the quartet of Razorbacks in double figures with 13 points, a team-high five rebounds, three assists and three steals. Madden and Portis both finished with 11 points while sophomore Michael Qualls added 10. Freshman Moses Kingsley provided a big spark off the bench with seven points and four blocks in 18 minutes.
Arkansas was able to force South Carolina into 15 turnovers which led to 19 points and limited the Gamecocks to just 38 percent (18-47) from the field, but was undone by being out-rebounded by a 40-24 margin and foul trouble. The Razorbacks committed 28 fouls which led to 30-of-41 shooting at the free throw line by South Carolina, including its final seven points over the last 3:39.
South Carolina was led by freshman Sindarius Thornwell's 17 points and Laimonas Chatkevicius' 16 points and seven rebounds off the bench.
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