Arkansas got a big boost from its bench and pulled off a big upset Tuesday night.
B.J. Young led the Razorbacks with 13 points Tuesday night.
With the reserves scoring half of their points, the Razorbacks knocked off No. 2 Florida 80-69 at Bud Walton Arena.
Eight Arkansas players scored at least seven points as the Razorbacks defeated the No. 2 team in the nation for the sixth time in school history and the first time in 14 years.
Arkansas (14-8, 5-4 SEC) defeated a ranked opponent at Bud Walton Arena for the fourth time in the past two years, handing Florida (18-3, 8-1 SEC) its first conference loss of the season and the first loss by the Gators since late December.
“This was a total team win against a great basketball team,” Coach Mike Anderson said. “Our bench played outstanding. Our defense took them out of what they wanted to do. We were excellent at rebounding. We made shots and did a good job attacking and moving the ball.”
The Arkansas defense was relentless as they pestered the Gators throughout the game, turning 16 Florida turnovers and into 21 points. The Hogs' bench contributed 40 points.
The win was the first time since Feb. 24, 1999, that the Razorbacks topped the No. 2 team in the country. That evening they steamrolled Auburn, 104-88. Arkansas’ 80 points were also the most scored against Florida this season. The previous high was set by Kansas State in a 67-61 loss.
Arkansas was clicking on all cylinders, starting off nearly flawless with a 9-2 run over the opening 2:23. The Razorbacks increased their lead to double digits over the Gators as Qualls hit a three-pointer to put Arkansas up by 19-8. On the ensuing play, Powell sent the crowd to its feat with a resounding dunk as Arkansas took a 21-8 lead. The 13-point advantage was the largest lead any team held over the Gators this season.
“The first basket set the tone and everything else fell in line,” Powell said. “We ran, we attacked and we played physical. That was our goal and we executed it. It shows what we can do, the potential we have and how hard we work every day. It feels good.”
The Razorbacks grew their lead to 23 points as freshman Jacorey Williams had a tip-in to put Arkansas up 36-13. The Hogs led 43-26 at halftime, with their poijnt total the most allowed by the Gators this season in the first half.
Arkansas' defense held the Gators to their lowest first-half field-goal percentage (7-of-24, .292) of the season. Meanwhile, the Hogs went 16-of-30 from the field in the first half. The Razorbacks also finished the first half with a season-high seven three-pointers.
Arkansas outrebounded Florida 19-13 and finished the first half with 10 assists. The Hogs forced seven turnovers that led to 12 points.
The second half began no different than the first as the Razorbacks hounded the Gators, going on a 6-0 run before Florida Coach Billy Donovan called a timeout. The Gators returned to the court to put up their biggest run of the night, 7-0.
Arkansas didn't let up, thought, and the lead grew to 27 points (67-40) after a crowd-erupting dunk by Coty Clarke with 9:40 remaining in the game.
The Gators were unable to come back from their biggest deficit this season as Arkansas downed a top-5 team for the first time since Dec. 30, 2008 when the Razorbacks rolled No. 4 Oklahoma, 96-88.
“They were ready to play tonight,” Anderson said. “Playing against a team like Florida they really wanted to play well. Now we want to continue to build on this. This isn’t the beginning. This is a continuation of what we’ve been doing. Tonight was our night.”
The Razorbacks look to continue their momentum during a two-game road swing, as they travel to Nashville, Tenn., to take on the Vanderbilt Commodores on Saturday at 12:47 p.m. Central in an SEC Network-televised game.
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