Michael Qualls led Arkansas (17-9, 6-7) to a 71-64 win over South Carolina Wednesday night in Fayetteville.
Qualls dropped 20 points on 7-of-14 shooting and 4-of-7 shooting from behind the arc. He also grabbed eight boards, two steals, one block and only committed one turnover.
He has now scored in double figures in five of Arkansas’ last six games. He is 11-of-20 from behind the arc in his last four games. After starting conference play 11-of-56 (19.6 percent), Qualls has made a complete turnaround to help be productive for this team.
Coty Clarke was the only other Hog to score in double figures. It’s rare for Arkansas to only have two players in double figures. Clarke recorded a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds.
That’s a pretty impressive stat sheet from Qualls and Clarke. But, the rest of the game wasn’t very impressive. Arkansas let South Carolina stay around in the game and well; South Carolina is not very good.
It was a tale of two halves. Arkansas looked like a completely different team in the second half, in a bad way.
Arkansas went on a 20-2 run to go up 40-23 late in the first half. Qualls and Clarke combined for 18 points in the first half. The Hogs were 14-of-26 (53.8 percent) in the first half.
The Hogs only led 62-55 with 2:35 left in the game but South Carolina stuck around and made it a two-point game with 21.5 seconds remaining.
Arkansas went up by three after Coty Clarke went 1-for-2 at the free throw line with 16.6 seconds remaining and Arkansas forced a huge turnover at the other end to regain possession. Rashad Madden and Alandise Harris hit four free throws to end the game.
On a poor second half shooting performance, the Hogs finished 22-of-58 (37.9 percent) from the field and 8-of-25 (32 percent) from behind the arc.
South Carolina is now 10-16 and 3-10 in the SEC. They are currently tied for last place in the SEC with Mississippi State (who Arkansas plays on Saturday). The Gamecocks only had one thing going for them and that was Brenton Williams. Williams scored 29 points and hit six from long range Wednesday night.
Arkansas looked as if they overlooked this game against South Carolina, something they definitely can’t do against Mississippi State Saturday. They need to pick up a road win at Mississippi State to keep any postseason chances alive.
After Mississippi State, Arkansas plays Kentucky on the road, which will be a tough game and makes a road win at Mississippi State that much more important.
Arkansas has five games left until the SEC Tournament. Four of the five games are easily winnable but they have to play better than last night. It should be an interesting few weeks for Arkansas basketball.