They say basketball is a game of runs and that was definitely the case at Colonial Life Arena Thursday night. But USC didn’t have enough in the tank to out run Arkansas in 78-74 loss on Senior Night.
The 18th ranked Razorbacks jumped out to a 20 point first half lead; USC rallied in the second half to take a double digit lead of its own; then Arkansas 24-6, 13-4) spurted back to the front late to snatch the win and add another painful SEC loss to an already long list of them for the Gamecocks (14-15, 5-12).
The Razorbacks came out hot, making 10 of its first 15 shots. They lead by 20 with 6:15 to play in the first half. But the Gamecocks started chipping away with a 10-0 run and trailed by 11 at the half, 49-38. They picked up where they left off after the break and managed to not only come back, but build an 11 point lead with 7:20 to go.
At that point Arkansas was discombobulated, the crowd was fired up and USC appeared ready to snatch its biggest win of the SEC season in its final home game. But, the demons that have plagued this team in crunch time decided to make another cameo.
Arkansas closed the game on an 18-3 run that covered the final 5:53 seconds. USC’s last bucket came with 4:14 left to make it 73-65. The only other point they scored was a free throw by Sindarius Thornwell with just over two seconds on the clock and the Gamecocks down three. Thornwell missed the second attempt intentionally, but weren’t able to grab offensive the rebound.
Tyrone Johnson, in his final game at Colonial Life Arena, led the Gamecocks with 18 points. His big night was spoiled with a couple of key missed free throws down the stretch, and by the leg cramps that sent him to the bench for the final 2:29 of the game.
Johnson was one of four Gamecocks in double figures. Michael Carrera (14), Duane Notice (14) and Thornwell (10) were the others.
Arkansas All-SEC forward Bobby Portis led all scorers with 24. He scored the final four points of the game for the Razorbacks.