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Hogs’ defense carries stumbling offense to ugly win over Bulldogs

Arkansas’ offense was horrible most of the first half, but Mississippi State collapsed before halftime and the Hogs stumbled to a 61-45 win.

Arkansas’ offense was horrible for most of the first half, but Mississippi State collapsed before halftime and the Hogs stumbled to a 61-45 win.

It was not pretty in any way except for some flashes of defense by the Razorbacks.

“We can win a game ugly, and grimy and ugly,” Eric Musselman said later.

This one was all of that.

The Hogs used a 21-2 run in the first half and a 10-2 run to start the second for its fourth straight SEC victory with a 61-45 win over Mississippi State on Tuesday night at Bud Walton Arena.

“This Mississippi State team is toughness, rebounding and we went toe to toe with them tonight, which is huge,” Musselman said. “Our ability to rebound against good teams tonight it showed we can do that.”

Arkansas (14-5, 6-4 SEC) had four players with at least seven rebounds as the Razorbacks out-rebounded Mississippi State, 45-34. The Bulldogs (10-9, 4-6 SEC) entered the game 15th in the NCAA in rebound margin (+8.7), 18th in offensive rebounds (13.3) and 33rd in overall rebounds (39.7).

MSU only managed eight offensive rebounds as Arkansas had 30 defensive boards (Mississippi State missed 34 field goals).

The Bulldogs had two of the top 10 rebounders in the SEC in Tolu Smith, who was 11th in the NCAA in offensive rebounds, and Abdul Ado. The pair combined for just six rebounds and just two on the offensive end.

Justin Smith had his second double-double of the year with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Connor Vanover and Davonte Davis each had eight boards while Moses Moody grabbed seven.

Vanover and Moody each scored 13 points and Davis contributed 10.

Arkansas was down 14-2 to start the game as the Razorbacks missed 16 of its first 17 shots of the game.

With 7:48 left in the first half, the Hogs used a 21-2 run, making 9-of-14 shots over the span, to take a 28-20 lead with 26 seconds left before the break.

Moody had nine points in the run while JD Notae contributed eight. The Bulldogs grabbed a loose ball under their basket and made a layup at the buzzer to provide the halftime score of 28-22.

Mississippi State opened the second half with a quick bucket, but Arkansas scored 12 of the next 14 points.

However, MSU bounced back with a 10-0 run to cut its deficit to five (42.37). Undaunted, Arkansas went on an 11-3 run to lead by 15 (55-40) with 4:07 left and eventually pushed the lead to a game-high 19 (61-42) with 1:06 left.

Smith led Mississippi State with 10 points and five rebounds. Arkansas held Iverson Molinar and D.J. Stewart Jr,. to a combined 14 points in the game on 5-of-15 shooting. The pair ranked third and fourth in the league in scoring as each averaged 17.6 ppg.

Next up on the schedule is Texas A&M on Saturday (Feb. 6). Tipoff is set for 5:00 pm (CT) on SEC Network.

Information from Arkansas Communications is included in this story.

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