for this game

Washington comes up big again as Arkansas stuns Texas

Jan 7, 2009 - 7:34 AM FAYETTEVILLE, Arkansas (Ticker) -- Michael Washington and Arkansas sent another Big 12 power packing.

Washington scored 15 of his 22 points in the second half as Arkansas used a late push to topple seventh-ranked Texas, 67-61, on Tuesday.

It was the second win over a Top-10 team from the Big 12 Conference, handing then-No. 4 Oklahoma its first loss of the season last Tuesday, 96-88. The junior forward Washington had a big effort in that one, scoring 24 points and grabbing 11 rebounds.

"Arkansas showed that they are a good team, they have beaten a couple of really good teams here in the last week and have really been able to execute their gameplan," Texas guard A.J. Abrams said. "Arkansas is a tough place to play, but we really weren't on our game tonight."

Overall, the Razorbacks have beaten the last seven Top 25 teams that they have faced at home, including four under current coach John Pelphrey.

"We were fortunate to win. I have nothing but the utmost respect for Texas," Pelphrey said. "They are a tremendous team and we were very, very fortunate to win."

The Longhorns (11-3) had a 52-46 lead after Damion James' jumper with 9:05 remaining. Washington then ignited an 11-0 run, hitting his only 3-point attempt in the game.

Washington also had a three-point play during the burst, as did freshman Courtney Fortson, who gave the Razorbacks a 57-52 with 4:28 to play.

"We knew if we kept attacking, we'd win," Fortson said. "We played their game, it shows we can play with any team, and play any game."

Texas showed no quit despite the hostile environment, scoring five straight points to pull even at 57-57 when Justin Mason followed a missed layup by Abrams in transition with a dunk with 3:50 remaining.

However, the Longhorns were down a point at 62-61 with 48 seconds left after Mason grabbed a steal and followed a missed fast-break layup by freshman Varez Ward.

That was when Washington came up big, getting the ball at the top of the key and pump-faking James before sweeping in for the dunk and the foul. He sank the ensuing free throw for a 65-61 edge with 22 seconds left.

"I just wanted to win," Washington said.

Texas looked to strike from deep in the closing moments, but leading scorer Abrams missed three straight 3-point attempts before Arkansas sealed the game with a fast-break dunk by Stefan Welsh.

"I think John (Pelphrey) has done a good job with this team," Texas coach Rick Barnes said. "They hung in there and made the plays they needed to make down the stretch. We didn't make those kinds of plays and that is what it really comes down to. We broke down at the end defensively and offensively we lost the ball too many times, plain and simple. You have to make the plays in the open court and we didn't do that tonight."

Abrams was held in check by the Razorbacks most the night, mustering just seven points on 3-of-16 shooting.

Welsh finished with 20 points and Fortson had 13, 10 rebounds and five assists for Arkansas, which shot 50 percent (14-of-28) in the second half to give it an excellent chance of getting into the national rankings next week.

It would give a much needed boost to the Southeastern Conference, which has just one team in the latest USA Today/ESPN coaches' poll with No. 25 Tennessee.

Early on, the Razorbacks had their issues, falling behind by seven points before trailing 31-27 at the break.

A freshman on the rise, Fortson was held in check by the Longhorns, scoring just five points - all on free throws - and committing five of Arkansas' eight turnovers.

Yet, the 5-11 guard had five points, two assists and a steal in the closing seven minutes to bolster his team's chances.

While Fortson and the rest of the Razorbacks lifted their game after halftime, the Longhorns absorbed a tough blow when Dexter Pittman was whistled for his fourth foul with 13:01 remaining.

The junior center only had three points thereafter, finishing with 10 points and nine rebounds in 20 minutes.

"Losing Pittman to foul trouble really hurt them and helped us," Washington said. "It was big for them to lose him and a big advantage for us."

Gary Johnson had 15 points and 12 rebounds and James added 17 and eight for Texas, which absorbed its latest loss despite owning a 50-37 advantage on the boards.