GAINESVILLE (AP) — BJ Young missed an open 3-pointer 10 seconds into the game, setting the tone for a long night for Arkansas.
The Razorbacks’ bid for a season sweep of No. 5 Florida was over almost before it began Saturday night.
Arkansas (17-10, 8-6 Southeastern Conference) never led during a 71-54 loss to the Gators. Young missed all eight of his shots from the field and was held to three points, nearly 14 below his team-leading average.
Marshawn Powell was hindered by foul trouble much of the game and finished with seven points — eight below his average. Neither he nor Young scored in the second half.
“When you don’t make shots, you see the result,” coach Mike Anderson said after the Razorbacks were limited to 36.2 percent shooting, including 6 of 27 on 3-point attempts. “You can get behind really early with those guys because they’re pretty potent with all the double-figure scorers they have.”
Patric Young scored 14 points, giving the Southeastern Conference leaders the strong inside presence they have missed lately. The victory came with a heavy price, however. Freshman Michael Frazier II, one of the team’s top reserves, sustained a concussion in the second half and will be sidelined indefinitely.
With Young having his way posting up Arkansas’ frontcourt and Mike Rosario and Kenny Boynton having success driving to the basket and making timely shots from the perimeter, Florida (22-4, 12-2) had the game well in hand when Frazier left.
Rosario scored 15 points and Boynton and Erik Murphy had 12 each for the first-place Gators, who avenged one of their two losses in conference play.
“They had a little something to prove,” Anderson said. “And obviously I thought in the second half they really did.”
Donovan insisted before the game that his team, beaten 80-69 by Arkansas in Fayetteville on Feb. 5, was not seeking revenge. Nevertheless, Saturday night’s rout was satisfying for the players.
“I’m not Coach Donovan. He says it’s not a revenge (game), but I wanted to get them back. Everyone on that team wanted to get them back because the way they acted after they beat us was a little ridiculous,” Young said. “But, you know, I guess that’s what happens when someone beats the Florida Gators. When we get wins, it’s not that much publicized, but when we lose everyone wants to know about it. We just really wanted to get that win tonight.”
In addition to getting some payback, the Gators bounced back from squandering a 13-point lead over the final 11 minutes of a 63-60 loss at Missouri to regain a two-game lead in the SEC over Alabama, which lost on the road earlier in the day to LSU in triple-overtime.
Florida arguably played its worst game of the season in falling behind early and losing to Arkansas, but never trailed in this one. Boynton made a 3-pointer to open the game, Rosario scored on a fast break and Young followed up a miss by Boynton with a rim-shaking dunk for a 7-0 lead.
The putback and a capacity crowd in the O’Connell Center seemed to energize the 6-foot-9 Young, who took just seven shots and scored four points in Florida’s previous two games. Boynton made a layup and a runner in the lane to put the Gators up 23-13 before the Razorbacks settled and gradually chipped away at the deficit.
Young set the tone for a successful night by demanding the ball, something the junior center doesn’t always do.
“Today he showed why he’s a player and a beast. He did those things on the board and when they threw it to him, he made plays,” Arkansas forward Coty Clarke said. “At our house, he didn’t make plays. Today he stepped up for their team. They knew we were going to start shooting threes, so they went inside and started pounding inside.”
Arkansas trailed 32-28 at halftime, despite only getting three points from Young — all free throws — and playing the final 10:45 before the break without Powell, who made three of his first four shots before picking up two offensive fouls that sent him to the bench.
The Gators pulled away for good with an 11-1 spurt to begin the second half.
Rosario began the surge with a reverse layup, Boynton fueled it with a long a 3-pointer and Young finished with a jump hook and another rebound dunk that left the Gators in control at 41-29 with just under 17 minutes to go. Frazier’s second 3-pointer hiked the lead to 17, and the closest Arkansas got the rest of the way was 16 points with 31 seconds remaining.
“We knew they were going to come out with a lot of emotion and knock down some shots and the crowd was going to help,” Razorbacks guard Anthlon Bell said. “We just wanted to keep it close. They just ran out and got hot.”
Clarke was 8 for 8 from the field and led the Razorbacks with 18 points. Bell finished with 14.
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