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Baylor holds off Arkansas

 John Merifield   in Basketball

Arkansas (14-7, 3-5 Southeastern Conference) continues to struggle this season after losing a close 67-64 battle to No. 17 Baylor (16-5, 5-3 Big 12) in the Big 12/SEC Challenge inside the Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas, on Saturday afternoon. 

Junior guard Ricky Council IV led Arkansas with 25 points, while Davonte Davis added 16. Arkansas point guard Anthony Black was held to just seven points in 35 minutes of play but contributed on the glass with six boards.

Baylor's Keyonte George, one of the country's best freshmen, finished with 24 points, with LJ Cryer adding 20. Fourteen of George's came in the second half. The quickness and craftiness of the two overcame the length and size of the Razorbacks.

A game of runs

Baylor opened the contest by jumping out to a 19-8 lead. Just as it looked like Arkansas was in trouble, the Bears missed 16 of their next 17 shots, creating a 25-8 run for the Razorbacks to end the half. After a back-and-forth opening to the second half, a 10-0 Baylor run created some separation between the two. Arkansas battled back and got within a point with 19 seconds to play, but could not complete the comeback after an open 3-pointer from Joseph Pinion missed.

Free throws proved crucial in the end

Both teams struggled from beyond the arc in the game, with Arkansas shooting 4-of-14 (28.6%) and Baylor going 6-of-18 (33%). Arkansas shot fairly well from midrange and inside the paint, a field goal percentage was over 50.9% compared to Baylor’s 33%.

However, free throws proved to be the deciding factor. Arkansas shot just 11 free throws in the game, and on top of that hit just six of them. Almost a third of Baylor’s points came from the charity stripe, with the Bears going 21-24 on the night. 

Two of those free throws came courtesy of Arkansas coach Eric Musselman's technical foul in the first half. 

What now for Arkansas?

The Razorbacks' two-game winning streak ended, and they’ve dropped five of their last seven games. Their three-point loss to Baylor is their fourth loss this season by single-digits. It’s not that Arkansas is a bad team, but more so just inconsistent. Missing Trevon Brazile and Nick Smith Jr., both of whom have missed much of the season due to injury, hasn't helped.

Next up for Arkansas is Texas A&M, a 72-66 winner over Vanderbilt on Saturday night, in Fayetteville.