Hannahs, Bell lead Arkansas past Mississippi State 82-68
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Dusty Hannahs can’t remember the last time he’s experienced an extended shooting slump of any kind, if ever.
The Arkansas guard put an emphatic end to some recent struggles — at least, by his lofty standards — in an 82-68 win over Mississippi State on Saturday.
Hannahs scored a career-high 26 points as the Razorbacks (8-7, 2-1 Southeastern Conference) won their second straight game, also setting a career best with eight 3-pointers.
The performance topped a 25-point, seven 3-pointer effort the former Texas Tech transfer had in 2014, and it came after he shot only 17 of 46 (37 percent) over his last five games — including 4 of 17 on 3-pointers.
“It definitely feels good to come out after the last couple of games,” Hannahs said. “My teammates aren’t shy to let me know about how I wasn’t making the shots, too, so it’s just good to be able to hit them.”
Hannahs finished 9 of 16 from the field in the win, including 8 of 13 on 3-pointers, and he had plenty of help in the form of fellow sharp shooter Anthlon Bell — who scored 25 points and was 5 of 7 from behind the arc.
Arkansas was 16-of-24 shooting (66.7 percent) overall on 3-pointers, matching the school record for percentage in a game.
“It was what they were giving us; they were giving us that shot,” Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said. “So, you’ve got to give our guys credit for stepping up and knocking them down.”
Craig Sword had 21 points and Gavin Ware added 14 for the Bulldogs (7-7, 0-2), who trailed by as many as 14 points in the second half before cutting the Arkansas lead to 62-59 with 5:28 remaining.
The Razorbacks led 36-32 at halftime, and they opened the second half on a 12-2 run to extend the lead to 48-34 after Bell’s fourth 3-pointer of the game.
It was the first time in the senior’s career he had made at least four 3-pointers in three straight games, and he finished 9 of 17 overall from the field while scoring in double figures for the 14th time in 15 games this season.
Despite Arkansas’ early push, Mississippi State rallied behind Sword — whose layup cut the lead to 62-59.
The Razorbacks, however, followed by closing out the game on a 20-9 run to secure their second straight SEC win, and it was Hannahs who put the finishing touches on the win.
The junior put Arkansas up 65-59 with his sixth 3-pointer of the game, and he followed by banking one in to put the Razorbacks up 74-63. Following his career-best eighth 3-pointer, putting Arkansas up 80-63, Hannahs waved his arms to the crowd as he ran back down the court.
“To be down three with five-something to go and end up losing by 18 is really, really disappointing as a coach,” Mississippi State coach Ben Howland said. ”... They really attacked our zone (defense) well and picked it apart.”
Mississippi State: Ware was 5 of 16 from the field for the Bulldogs, who were 24 of 64 (37.5 percent) from the field overall and unable to keep up with an Arkansas team that shot 50 percent (28 of 56) overall.
Arkansas: Jabril Durham finished with 10 points and 12 assists for the Razorbacks, the fifth time the senior has finished in double figures in assists in a game this season. He also had six of Arkansas’ 10 steals.
Former Arkansas coach John Pelphrey worked courtside as a television analyst at the game. Pelphrey, who was fired at Arkansas after four seasons in 2011, last worked as an assistant at Florida last season.
Mississippi State is at No. 9 Kentucky on Tuesday.
Arkansas is at Missouri on Tuesday.