FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — For one last time, Arkansas' Marshawn Powell got in the way of Oklahoma.
With 2.4 seconds left on the clock Tuesday night, the Sooners' Tyler Neal attempted to inbound a pass to Romero Osby. But Powell crossed in front of the senior and knocked the pass down, along with the OU's hopes of a comeback.
Nothing the Sooners did could stop the Razorbacks at Bud Walton Arena, where the Hogs won 81-78. It gave the Razorbacks their first win after losing three straight.
Osby's face was one of pure defeat. The senior forward didn't start for the first time in his college career but played one of his best games, scoring a season- and team-high 22 points and grabbing six rebounds.
Here's the truth: The Sooners came out slow, like coach Lon Kruger wanted them too. They came out communicating, like Kruger wanted them too. They came out semi-physical, like Kruger wanted them too. They just didn't do it to the best of their ability.
“We're going to make progress in all those areas every ballgame but we've got a long way to go,” the second-year coach said.
Here's the other truth: Oklahoma couldn't stop Powell from beyond the arc. He had 19 points by halftime and finished the game with a career-high 33. He nailed four of six 3-pointers, went 11-for-17 on field goals and made 7 of 8 free throws.
Osby knew Powell was good. The faced each other when Osby was at Mississippi State.
“He had a lot of moves,” Osby said. “I told the team he's a good player. ... When he's knocking down threes he's tough to guard.”
Steven Pledger knew it too. He and Powell grew up playing on the same AAU team. They walked off the court after the game arm in arm, but during the game they watched each other change momentum for their team.
With 40.2 seconds to go, Pledger drained a 3-pointer from the right side of the court to cut Oklahoma's deficit to 77-75. About 20 seconds later, on Oklahoma's next possession, he drained another 3 — this time from the left side of the arc — to give Oklahoma its first lead since the game's opening minutes at 78-77.
Arkansas guard B.J. Young answered six seconds later with a layup to give Arkansas the lead again. The Sooners then fouled Powell. He made both shots to give Arkansas an 81-77 lead with two seconds left.
That's when the inbound pass from Neal to Osby came. It was play drawn up by Kruger that was supposed to find Osby on the right side of the court. Osby was supposed to make a quick catch-and-release to Pledger for a 3.
Osby never got to catch the ball.
He sat on the left side of Kruger in the postgame press conference with his fist balled up covering his mouth, while Pledger sat with his head in both his hands. Both seniors' eyes glazed over as their coach spoke.
“We've got to be much more physical with loose balls around the rim and second-shot opportunities, late shot-clock opportunities that we didn't quite sustain right through the finish,” Kruger said. “Just more committed, more aggressive, more physical. We've got a few days to work on all that but the good thing is this is a great group of workers as far as attitudes goes and they'll want to get better.”