LSU’s basketball woes continue with loss to Arkansas

Published 12:50 am Thursday, February 11, 2010

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas brought a four-game winning streak into its Wednesday night game against LSU, but the suddenly hot Razorbacks didn’t cruise to any of those victories.

The Hogs had to rally back from deficits in each win during the streak, including double-digit deficits in the first three. Arkansas started considerably better Wednesday night, however, and led from start to finish during an 87-52 victory in Bud Walton Arena.

‘‘One of our main focuses was to try to come and play well early,’’ Arkansas guard Rotnei Clarke said. ‘‘We’ve started slow the last few games, so we wanted to come out with a lot of intensity.’’

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The Razorbacks accomplished a fast start and then went on to drill the fledgling Tigers behind 33 combined points from Clarke (16) and Courtney Fortson (17).

Arkansas (13-11, 6-3 Southeastern Conference) posted the largest margin of victory over LSU (9-15, 0-10) in the history of the schools’ 49-game series. The 35-point victory also represented the Razorbacks’ third-largest conference victory since entering the SEC.

LSU has now lost 10 consecutive games, its longest losing streak since a 12-game slide to end the 1997-98 season.

Arkansas has won five straight in the SEC — dating back to its 31-point loss on Jan. 23 at No. 3 Kentucky — for the first time since 2006.

‘‘It was a good old fashioned butt whoopin’,’’ LSU coach Trent Johnson said. ‘‘We’re not very good right now. There’s no secret to that.’’

Arkansas, off to its best nine-game start in the SEC since 1998, took a one-game lead over Ole Miss in the SEC Western Division with the victory.

Tasmin Mitchell scored 15 points to lead LSU, but he nailed only six of his 18 shots. Arkansas limited LSU guard Bo Spencer to four points. He left the game early with a sprained ankle.

The Razorbacks tallied the first 10 points of the game. Mike Washington scored off a Marshawn Powell steal to open the scoring. Clarke then drained a 3-pointer, followed by an 18-footer and 3-pointer by Fortson.

Fortson’s 3-pointer forced Johnson to call time out only 2:35 into Wednesday’s game.

‘‘That (early start) certainly was a different feeling than what we’ve experienced to this point in time in the SEC season,’’ Arkansas coach John Pelphrey said.

LSU responded with a 9-2 run and kept Arkansas from immediately turning the contest into a blowout, but the Tigers’ rally attempt didn’t last long. The Hogs ripped off the next 13 points to take a 25-9 lead.

Clarke scored six of those points — on a step-back 19-footer, an 8-foot floater in the lane and a fast-break layup off a steal. Arkansas later increased its first-half lead to as high as 41-17 when Stef Welsh found Glenn Bryant for an alley-oop dunk and Fortson added two free throws.

The Razorbacks led 43-21 at halftime.

The rout continued into the second half, as Jemal Farmer scored eight-straight points to extend Arkansas’ lead to 72-38 with 8:08 remaining. Farmer scored all 11 of his points after halftime.

‘‘We talked about this being an ’E’ game,’’ Pelphrey said. ‘‘We wanted effort, energy, enthusiasm and encouragement for teammates. We needed all those things, and we got that for the most part. It’ll be important for us the rest of the way.’’