No. 12 Arkansas looks to avenge loss to South Carolina

NCAA Men's Basketball

Arkansas has evened the score with a trio of Southeastern Conference teams, but now it goes east to play an opponent coming off one of its best games this season.

Coach Eric Musselman will take his No. 12-ranked Razorbacks to Columbia, S.C., to face the South Carolina Gamecocks on Tuesday in a matchup that might have had a different outlook before the weekend.

Winners of nine straight SEC games, Arkansas (19-5, 11-4 SEC) finished off February with a perfect 6-0 mark in a home rally to beat LSU on Saturday, dropping the Tigers 83-75 and settling the score after a 16-point loss on Jan. 13 in Baton Rouge.

Down by as many as 10 in the first half and five at halftime, the Hogs turned up the tempo and got the best of their bayou opponent despite a late 13-2 run from LSU.

The Razorbacks took Musselman’s halftime pep talk to heart.

“The main message at halftime was be strong, stop missing layups, go off of two feet,” said Musselman, in his second year at Arkansas. “Draw contact. Draw free throws attempted. And then, we’ve said it since the Alabama game, you can’t beat LSU if you don’t out-rebound them.

“I thought our rebounding in the second half was absolutely great.”

The Razorbacks have beaten two other opponents who defeated them in their first encounters: an 86-81 overtime win against Missouri on Feb. 13 and an 81-66 victory over Alabama on Wednesday.

Musselman credited the play of team-leading scorer Moses Moody (16.6 points per game) in the comeback on Senior Day.

Moody scored in double digits in every contest during the productive month and seven straight overall. The Little Rock, Ark., native has netted at least 11 points in 21 of the squad’s 24 outings.

“I think the key to basketball, a big key, is getting free throws attempted, and attacking with force. And Moses is doing that,” Musselman added.

South Carolina led almost the entire game, put on a torrid shooting display and snapped its six-game losing streak in a 91-70 rout of Georgia on Saturday in Athens, Ga.

The Gamecocks (6-12, 4-10) will need to duplicate Saturday’s shooting against the Bulldogs in order to beat Arkansas in the first meeting between the schools.

After knocking down just 29 percent of its shots Wednesday against the SEC’s other Bulldogs — Mississippi State — South Carolina lit up Georgia with 53.6 percent accuracy, paced by Jermaine Couisnard’s season-high 23 points.

The win was the Gamecocks’ 10th straight over Georgia — the last defeat coming in the SEC tournament in Nashville, Tenn., in 2016.

Entering the game averaging 9.3 points per game, Couisnard nailed 8 of 16 field-goal attempts, including four treys, and finished just shy of his career-high 28 set last season against Ole Miss.

“I give all the (credit) to my teammates because they’re the ones who kept me lifted through all the things I was going through,” said Couisnard, who recently returned from an ankle injury. “They told me to keep shooting the ball and not lose my confidence.”

–Field Level Media

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