Arkansas wins its SEC opener, holds off Texas A&M, 73-71
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) - Jalen Harris scored 15 points and Desi Sills added 14 as Arkansas held on for a 73-71 victory at Texas A&M in a Southeastern Conference opener on Saturday night.
The Razorbacks (10-3, 1-0 SEC) won for the first time in four tries in SEC openers at A&M (6-6, 0-1).
The teams traded leads for much of the second half before Arkansas heated up from long range. Mason Jones, Isaiah Joe and then Jones again coolly drained 3-pointers on three consecutive possessions starting with about five minutes left in the game.
The last lifted Arkansas to a 62-59 lead with 4:11 remaining, and the Razorbacks added to it with another 3-pointer from Jones with 3:23 left. That gave Arkansas an insurmountable 65-59 lead.
Even when Jones missed a 3-pointer during that stretch, as he did with 2:04 remaining, Gabe Osabuohien was there to snag the rebound on a possession capped by a Harris driving layup in the paint.
Jones was 3-of-11 from the 3-point line overall, but made the long-range offerings when it counted most.
Arkansas led 32-31 at halftime on the strength of Sills' 13 points in the first 20 minutes. The Aggies also missed eight of their nine 3-point attempts in the first half, in leading only briefly over that span.
Arkansas: The Razorbacks were upset about opening SEC play at A&M for the fourth time in seven seasons, and they had reason to be with the unbalanced scheduling. It didn't matter on Saturday, however, with Jones' long-range shooting late in the game. Arkansas was picked to finish 10th in league play, but as Harris pointed out, it was big to win the opener on the road.
A&M: The Aggies needed this one in a big way, and not simply because it was their SEC opener. They were coming off an 88-73 home loss to Texas Southern, a stunning setback that snapped a five-game win streak. They're on the road for their next two, and are looking at starting 0-3 square in the eyes.
A&M hits the road for the first time this season in SEC action, playing at No. 13 Kentucky on Tuesday night.
Arkansas plays at home for the first time in conference, playing host to Florida on Wednesday night.
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