Fayetteville, AR (SportsNetwork.com) - The 18th-ranked Arkansas Razorbacks will enter next week's Southeastern Conference Tournament as the two seed behind unbeaten Kentucky. But first they'll look to close out their regular season on a winning note when they welcome LSU to Bud Walton Arena.
Arkansas blew a 20-point lead to South Carolina on Thursday and found itself down 11 with six minutes to go. However, the Razorbacks stormed back down the stretch to pull out a 78-74 win.
Bobby Portis led the way with 24 points, while Michael Qualls added 18 points and scored the go-ahead layup with 1:26 remaining. Anthlon Bell also hit 5- of-8 attempts from 3-point range -- including two during Arkansas' game-ending run -- in a 17-point effort.
The hard-fought victory was the eighth in nine games for Arkansas, with its lone blemish over that stretch coming at Kentucky last Saturday. The Razorbacks' 24 regular season wins are the most since 1994-95 .
Another win on Saturday would equal the program's single-season record for wins at Bud Walton Arena. The Razorbacks set or equaled the mark all three years under head coach Mike Anderson with 17 wins and enter the home finale with a 16-1 mark at home this season.
LSU, meanwhile, had a four-game winning streak stopped on Wednesday with a 78-63 loss to Tennessee. Keith Hornsby paced the Tigers with 25 points on 6- of-11 shooting from the floor, while Jarrell Martin added 16 points and Tim Quarterman supplied 10 points with seven assists.
Jordan Mickey also posted nine points and eight boards as the Tigers fell to 10-7 in conference action and 21-9 overall.
Arkansas and LSU are meeting just one time in the regular season for only the second time since the Razorbacks joined the SEC in 1991-92. The two teams split last year���s two regular season meetings, while the Tigers have won four of the last five in the series. Arkansas��� win last year at Bud Walton Arena stretched its home win streak to four games against LSU and 15-5 all-time at BWA.
South Carolina gave Arkansas everything it could handle, but the Razorbacks showed why they are one of the top teams in the country. After Carolina claimed its biggest lead of the night, 71-60, the Razorbacks finished the game by scoring 18 of the final 21 points. They also held the Gamecocks without goal for the final 4:14 of regulation.
Arkansas forced South Carolina into 16 turnovers. The Razorbacks are now 20-0 this season when forcing opponents into 15 or more turnovers. Opponents are averaging 17.8 turnovers at BWA while the Razorbacks have a +6.4 turnover margin.
It was the sixth time (6-0) this season Portis and Qualls have combined for 40+ points. Portis leads the team with 17.7 points and is pulling down a team- best 8.5 rebounds. He's also scored in double figures in 25 straight games. Qualls is right behind him at 15.3 ppg and 5.4 boards. He is also just 15 points away from reaching the 1,000 point plateau. The Razorbacks are scoring 79.1 ppg as a team, while holding their opponents to 70.2.
LSU has been paced this season by big men Martin and Mickey, who rank fourth and fifth, respectively, in SEC scoring. Martin has scored 16.6 ppg and has pulled down 9.2 rebounds a contest. Mickey, meanwhile, is right behind him in scoring at 16.0 ppg and leads the team with 9.9 rebounds, as well as SEC-best 3.7 blocks per game. Hornsby (13.2 ppg) and Quarterman (11.7 ppg) round out the group of double-digit scorers for LSU this season, which as a unit is netting 73.6 ppg. The Tigers are holding their opponents to 67.2 ppg, while limiting them to just a .401 percentage from the field.