The road can be an unfriendly place in the SEC when the league is good. Arkansas found that out the hard way Tuesday night.
The Razorbacks fell to Mississippi State, the team picked to finish 12th in the conference this season, 78-75 in Starkville.
Quinndary and Nick Weatherspoon were the biggest reasons why. Quinndary’s 3-pointer with 1 minutes, 18 seconds left tied the game at 75 after Mississippi State trailed most of the second half. After a charging call against Jaylen Barford, Bulldogs big man Abdul Ado finished off a loose ball to put Mississippi State ahead by two.
Arkansas had a chance to tie at the other end, but Barford missed a jumper, Mississippi State collected the rebound and held on down the stretch.
It’s the Bulldogs third straight win in the series. Arkansas’ loss moves the Razorbacks to 1-1 in SEC play and 11-3 overall.
The Weatherspoon brothers combined for 44 points on 14-of-26 shooting. Twenty-six of those points came in the second half. Quinndary had 22 a year after dropping 25 on Arkansas in Bud Walton Arena last season in Mississippi State’s upset.
After he missed 1 of 2 free throws with 15.6 seconds left, though, Arkansas had another chance at a tie. Daryl Macon, who was Arkansas’ best player and scored 17 points in the second half, shuffled his feet before getting off a potential game-tying 3 with 8.2 seconds left.
Macon finished with 24 points overall. He and Daniel Gafford were the only consistent threats Arkansas had offensively. Gafford had 17 points on 8-of-11 shooting. Macon’s 24 came on 9 of 12 from the field.
A last-ditch chance for an Arkansas tie came on Anton Beard’s prayer just after crossing midcourt. It fell short and Mississippi State collected the win to continue its best start in 14 seasons.
Arkansas faces another road game next. The Razorbacks travel to Auburn on Saturday. The Tigers beat Tennessee, the team Arkansas needed overtime to dispatch in the opener, by double digits on Tuesday night.
Gafford continues to impress. The freshman big man has not slowed since SEC play began. If it keeps up, he might be off to the NBA sooner rather than later.
Stop fouling. Arkansas was over-aggressive on the defensive end trying to handle Mississippi State’s guard-heavy lineup.
What’s next for Arkansas?
Saturday, Jan. 6
5 p.m. CT