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Author Topic: McPherson: Hogs' furious comeback falls short again as LSU wins at BWA, 94-88  (Read 210 times)

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Jason Carroll

Hitting what is roughly the midway point of the season, the Arkansas Razorbacks are defining their 2018-19 campaign with close losses at home. For the second consecutive SEC game at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville, the Hogs made a furious comeback to erase a late-second-half double-digit deficit only to lose by six in the end -- this time against LSU, 94-88, in overtime on Saturday.

Despite sophomore center Daniel Gafford putting up a career-high 32 points, Arkansas (10-5, 1-2 SEC) has now lost for the fourth time on its home court -- includes back-to-back non-conference losses in December, and now back-to-back SEC losses in early January counting Wednesday's 57-51 loss against Florida when the Hogs erased a late 15-point deficit with a chance to tie or take the lead in the final half-minute of the contest. The Hogs are now 0-2 in overtime games (includes a 73-71 OT loss to Texas in the season-opener in El Paso), they've lost their five games by a combined total of 19 points (that's a 3.8-point margin per loss), and they're now 5-5 in one- or two-possession games inside of two minutes to play.

Arkansas trailed by as many as 13 points in the second half against LSU, and the Hogs were down 73-61 with 9:19 to play when Gafford scored 5 points to help fuel a 12-0 run to tie the game at 73 with 5 minutes remaining. From there, Gafford and sophomore wing Mason Jones -- who finished with 22 points -- each scored two baskets in a back-and-forth with LSU, including Gafford's dunk with 30 seconds remaining that tied the game at 81. LSU sophomore point guard Tremont Waters and freshman forward Naz Reid each missed shots in the final 0:03 as the game moved to the extra period.

In overtime, Gafford immediately scored on a lay-in to give Arkansas its first lead of the game, 83-81, but LSU responded with back-to-back 3s by freshman guard Ja'vonte Smart and Reid for an 87-83 Tigers' lead. Gafford's dunk at 2:52 in overtime brought the Hogs within 87-85, and freshman guard Isaiah Joe made 1-of-2 free throws with 1:36 left in the extra period to close the gap back to one possession, 89-86, but LSU rattled off five unanswered points for a 94-86 lead before Joe's mid-range bucket at 0:05 provided the final margin.

Once again, Arkansas can point to the free throw line as a problem in a close loss. The Hogs shot six more freebies than the Tigers, but made one less (Arkansas was 17-of-28 for 60.7%, and LSU was 18-of-22 for 81.8%). The Hogs are a combined 61-of-103 (59.2%) from the free throw line in their five losses.

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