GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Sophomore guard B.J. Young was out of sync, junior forward Marshawn Powell stayed in foul trouble, and Arkansas suffered another road loss, falling to No. 5 Florida 71-54 on Saturday at the O’Connell Center.
Junior center Patric Young had 14 points and seven rebounds for Florida on Saturday.
Young finished with just three points – all on free throws – and didn’t score after the break. Powell (seven points) was on the bench for more than 10 minutes in the first half after he picked up his second offensive foul. He was called for two quick fouls early in the second half and didn’t score in the final 20 minutes.
Despite the very limited production from their top two scorers this season, the Razorbacks (17-10, 8-6 SEC) trailed by just four – 32-28 – at halftime. But the Gators (22-4, 12-2 SEC) went on an 18-5 run to start the second half and avenged an 80-69 loss to Arkansas suffered Feb. 5 in Fayetteville.
Junior forward Coty Clarke led the Razorbacks on Saturday with 18 points on 8-of-8 shooting.
“It was a tale of two halves,” Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said. “We scratched and clawed and gave ourselves a chance, even with some adversity with the early fouls. In the second half, Florida really attacked the glass and we didn’t make shots.”
Florida’s spurt gave the Gators an 11-point lead at the first media timeout of the second half. That lead grew to as many as 20 midway through the final period as Arkansas, which has won just once in the road this season, struggled with foul trouble and a hot shooting performance for the Gators.
Clarke did yeoman’s work for the Razorbacks, scoring 12 of his 18 points in the second half, but was not able to get consistent scoring around him to overcome the Florida attack. The Gators hit 46 percent of its shots for the game and 53 percent in the second half. (Arkansas shot 36.3 percent from the floor and 22.2 percent – 6 of 27 – from three-point range.
Clarke also added a team high seven rebounds and three blocked shots, but he picked up three fouls in the first half that limited him early in the second half. Freshman guard Anthlon Bell was Arkansas’ outside threat, hitting four three-point baskets for the second straight game off the bench to finish with 14 points.
“(Clarke) was a warrior,” Anderson said. “He was fighting and active and playing to win.”
Powell picked up his third foul just more than a minute into the second half. Three minutes later, he had picked up his fourth, forcing him to sit while Florida's inside-out game fueled a run to blow the game open.
Freshman forward Michael Qualls matched Clarke’s rebounding with seven boards and added a pair of assists. Four Florida players scored in double digits, led by Mike Rosario’s 15. Patrick Young finished the game with 14 points and seven rebounds, and Kenny Boynton and Erik Murphy each scored 12 points.
The Gators began the game on a 7-0 run over the opening two-plus minutes, but the Razorbacks weathered the initial storm by Florida and went on a 5-0 run of its own to close the gap to 7-5 just two minutes later. The game remained close throughout the first half despite several runs by the Gators.
An 11-1 spurt to start the second half got Florida back on track.
“Last time we didn't respect them when we went to their place,” Patric Young said. “We were probably a little complacent, let human nature kick in. We were feeling good about ourselves, thinking we wouldn't have to worry about it.
“But tonight, we took on the challenge. We really wanted to get these guys back, as well. That just helped us come out ready to play.”
The Razorbacks are on the road again Wednesday, playing at LSU in an SEC Network-televised game.
For Saturday's box score, click HERE.