18th-ranked Razorbacks give up 6-point lead in final minute, lose to Clemson 68-65



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CLEMSON, South Carolina — Mike Anderson blamed himself for No. 18 Arkansas' late collapse — and told his team just that.

"I'm certainly disappointed in the outcome and I told our guys, 'I'll take the blame for that,'" Anderson said after the Razorbacks lost a six-point lead in final minute of regulation and fell in overtime 68-65 to Clemson on Sunday night.

"We didn't close it," Anderson said. "We talked about this year being committed to finishing and we didn't finish."

Especially when it seemed there was little chance Arkansas (6-2) could lose after Bobby Portis' layup made it 57-51 with 1:17 to go. But turnovers by Anthlon Bell and Rashad Madden in the last minute both led to baskets as Clemson tied things.

Rod Hall hit a 3-pointer to start the extra period and put Clemson ahead to stay.

"Once it got to overtime, momentum shifted in their direction," Anderson said.

The loss ended a rough week for Arkansas basketball. The Razorbacks came in ranked in consecutive weeks for the first time since 2000, yet fell at No. 20 Iowa State on Thursday before the Clemson loss.

Anderson said his team didn't let the Iowa State defeat bother them in this one and said Clemson's play was the decisive factor.

"Clemson dictated things in the first half. That's why we scored 25 points. We can score 25 points in 10 minutes," he said. "We just didn't do our job and finish."

Hall scored 19 points, 11 coming in the final minute of regulation and overtime. Jaron Blossomgame had 17 points, including the tying layup.

Michael Qualls hit a 3-pointer to bring Arkansas within 68-65 with 1:01 to play. But that was as close as the Razorbacks (6-2) would get.

"Our guys made plays, we got it to even up and Rod (Hall) was tremendous," Clemson coach Brad Brownell said. "That was really the difference in the game for us."

Qualls had 21 points and Portis 18 for Arkansas, which has lost its second straight after opening with six consecutive wins.

This one certainly looked like a defeat for Clemson after Arkansas overcame a nine-point deficit to lead by as many as eight points down the stretch.

Arkansas had a chance to get closer in overtime down 68-65, but Alandise Harris missed a layup and Qualls was short on a 3-pointer in the final seconds.

The matchup featured one of the country's top offenses in Arkansas against a Clemson team that hangs its hat on defense — the Tigers were fifth nationally last year in points given up.

And it was defense that won out early as the Razorbacks were held to their fewest points in a half this season.

Clemson led 29-20 after Hall's 3-pointer with 2:02 left in the opening period. But Michael Qualls scored the final five points of the half, including a three-point play, to trim Clemson's margin to 29-25 at the break.

Similar shooting woes that doomed Clemson against Rutgers cropped up again as the Tigers made only two of their final 12 shots of the half.

CONFERENCE STANDINGS

Clemson improved to 2-0 against Southeastern Conference this season, the Arkansas win coming after a 64-61 victory over LSU at the Paradise Jam last month. The Tigers next two games are also against SEC teams, at home Dec. 14 against Auburn and at South Carolina on Dec. 19.

ARKANSAS' OFFENSE

The Razorbacks lost their offensive flow for stretches against the defensive-minded Tigers. Arkansas shot 39.1 percent in the opening half and made just 3 of 9 shots in overtime. It was the first time the Razorbacks were held under 77 points this season.

TIP INS

Arkansas: The Razorbacks have spent consecutive weeks in the national rankings for the first time since December 2000, a streak that could come to end after consecutive defeats.

Clemson: The game with the Razorbacks is the start of three straight contests facing Southeastern Conference opponents for the Tigers. Clemson takes on Auburn at home Sunday before heading to face rival South Carolina on Dec. 19.

UP NEXT

Arkansas plays host to Dayton on Saturday.

Clemson plays host to Auburn on Sunday.

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