FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas’ BJ Young didn’t have to think back long to remember what to do with the ball in the closing seconds.
Young, who scored on back-to-back three-point plays in the closing minute to beat Missouri last week, was at it again on Thursday night — hitting a spinning layup with 6 seconds remaining to give the Razorbacks a 62-60 win over Georgia.
“Same play, same setup as the Missouri game,” Young said. “We like to call (it) at the end of the game, and then I capitalized on it.”
The win is the third straight for the Razorbacks, their longest winning streak in Southeastern Conference play in three seasons and longest under second-year coach Mike Anderson.
Arkansas (17-9, 8-5) led by as many as 11 points in the second half before the Bulldogs (12-14, 6-7) rallied to take a 56-53 lead with 2:33 remaining. Young, however, hit his second game-winning shot in as many games to improve the Razorbacks to 16-1 at home.
Anthlon Bell led Arkansas with a career-high 17 points, while Marshawn Powell added 11.
“It wasn’t how we had planned it to happen,” Anderson said. “An old coach used to tell me, ‘A raggedy ride is better than a smooth walk.’
“We didn’t play our best, but we found a way to win.”
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored all 15 of his points in the second half to lead Georgia, which has now lost three straight after a five-game winning streak.
The Bulldogs trailed throughout, eventually rallying to take a 56-53 lead with 2:33 remaining after a 3-pointer by Caldwell-Pope.
Powell, who was saddled with foul trouble for much of the game and played only 15 minutes, answered with a 3-pointer on the other end for Arkansas. Powell then put the Razorbacks up 60-58 with less than a minute remaining, but Caldwell-Pope had an answer of his own to tie the game.
Following a timeout, Young — who scored on back-to-back three-point plays in the closing minute to beat Missouri last week — drove into the lane and connected on the game-winner.
“It felt like we let them hang around, let them get confidence, and that was our fault,” Young said. “We should have just (come) out from the jump and jumped on them.”
Arkansas is now three games over .500 in the SEC for the first time since the 2007-08 season — the last time the school reached the NCAA tournament.
The Razorbacks led 28-18 after a foul-plagued first half during which four players went to the bench with two fouls, including Powell. The junior, who scored 24 points in a win over Missouri in the Razorbacks’ last game, quickly picked up his third and fourth fouls early in the second half and spent much of the rest of the game on the bench.
Bell made sure Arkansas was able to hold off Georgia without its second-leading scorer, connecting on his fourth and fifth 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions to push the lead to 39-28.
The Bulldogs were far from finished, however, reeling off a 15-4 run — including an 11-0 stretch — to tie the game at 43 after a basket inside by Nemanja Djurisic.
Sherrard Brantley also finished in double figures with 10 points for Georgia, which shot 17 of 46 (37 percent) in the loss.
“Our team has been through quite a bit this year,” Bulldogs coach Mark Fox said. “We’re starting to grow up and become pretty competitive. We were just one play short tonight.”
Arkansas started quickly, thanks in large part to the play of the little-used Bell — who hadn’t scored since a win over Mississippi State on Jan. 23. The freshman entered the game shooting 28.4 percent on 3-pointers and averaging 2 points per game in SEC play, but he connected on his first 3-point attempts against the Bulldogs.
Bell’s third 3-pointer of the half came with 11:43 remaining and gave the Razorbacks an 18-6 lead — their largest lead of the game. The freshman’s previous career high was a 16-point effort in the second game of the season over Longwood on Nov. 18.
“I know I’ve done it in the past, and I know I’m capable,” Bell said. “… When I hit the first one, I knew I felt pretty confident and just let it come to me.”
The early hot shooting by Bell was much more the exception than the rule, however.
The two teams combined to shoot 13 of 50 (26 percent) from the field in the first half. Georgia finished 4 of 22 (18.2 percent), while Arkansas wasn’t much better in a 9-for-28 (32.1 percent) effort.
Arkansas is now one win away from clinching at least a .500 record in SEC play. The Razorbacks haven’t done that since a 9-7 mark during the 2007-08 season.
“A win is a win,” Young said. “I felt like we could have played a lot better, but we won still. So, that’s what matters.”
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.