FAYETTEVILLE, ARK--Hot shooting Auburn didn't give up its three-game win streak without a fight Wednesday night in Bud Walton Arena. Arkansas appeared to have the Tigers beaten near the end of regulation and overtime play but each time the visitors found a way to stay alive.
Sophomore guard B.J. Young, who had twice been denied a potential game winning inside basket, drilled a three pointer in double overtime to put the Hogs up by six with 46 seconds left nailing the coffin shut on Auburn's bid for consecutive conference road wins.
The lengthy drama was a gut check but something that will elevate the Razorbacks' younger players according to junior guard Mardracus Wade who broke out of a slump with 12 points and three steals.
"It was good for us too be in this atmosphere," Wade told reporters after the game. "A lot of guys had never played two overtimes and for them, for us to play in two overtimes and come out with the win, that's really big."
The confidence boost came a week after the Hogs had opened SEC play as cannon fodder for Texas A&M in College Station, losing 69-51. But it came with a price. Young put in 47 minutes on the floor against Auburn. Four other Razorbacks logged 30 plus minutes including junior forward Marshawn Powell who was asked about the 44 minutes he played.
"I didn't know this until after the game," Powell said as he slumped down in his chair in the post game press conference. "I'm tired, man. Like I'm really tired. Seriously."
Head coach Mike Anderson knows that the effort his players gave in the Auburn game could be a two edged sword Saturday afternoon in Oxford, Mississippi.
"We had some guys play heavy minutes," Anderson acknowledged. "So now, even more so, I think some of those guys on the bench that are sitting there, they're going to have to come in and contribute in a positive way as we head back out on the road."
Anderson didn't mention any names but he was likely referring to freshman guard Anthlon Bell and
freshman forward Jacorey Williams neither of whom saw action against Auburn.
The trip to Oxford will be another gut check. Ole Miss is tied for the SEC lead at 3-0 and has the best overall record in the conference at 14-2. The Rebels are 9-0 at home this season.
Arkansas has won in Oxford just six times in 22 SEC seasons.
Tip off for Arkansas and Ole Miss is set for Saturday at 1:30 p.m. The game will be televised on the SEC Network.