FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Despite making late push in the second half, the Fresno State men's basketball team lost 83-75 at Arkansas on Friday night inside spirited Bud Walton Arena. Fresno State (2-1) battled back from a 19-point second half deficit to within six in the final minute before falling to Arkansas (3-0), who have made the second round of the NCAA Tournament in two of the last seasons.
The Bulldogs relentlessly kept battling and saw sophomore forward Bryson Williams step up with a career night on the road in SEC country. Williams scored a career-high 22 points while making 11 of his 15 field goal attempts and pulling down nine rebounds.
How it happened: Fresno State opened the contest by scoring the first six points of the game, but the Bulldogs struggled to make shots and contain the Razorbacks for much of the rest of the first half.
Arkansas led by as many 16 in the first half en route to a 12-point halftime lead as the Bulldogs trailed 39-25 at the midway point.
Williams scored eight of his career-high 22 points in the first 2 minutes and 22 seconds of the second half, but it was the Bulldogs' late surge that in the final four minutes that nearly put themselves back within striking distance.
With the Bulldogs down 72-55 with 3:36 remaining, Fresno State went on a 10-2 run to close to within nine with two minutes to go. The 'Dogs then used a Jahmel Taylor 3-pointer and a Ray Bowles lay-up in the waning 26 seconds to cut it to 81-75 before one last foul in the last second added two more to Arkansas' total.
A tale of two halves: Fresno State shot just 31.0 percent from the field (9-for-29) in the first half and then converted a 59.4 percent clip (19-for-32) in the second half. Williams also scored 16 of his career-high 22 points after halftime.
Bryson Williams - 22 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal
Scored a career-high 22 points (first game with 20 or more points) ... had a season-high nine rebounds.
Deshon Taylor - 19 points, 4 rebounds and 1 assist
Scored a season-high 19 points ... has now scored at least 15 points in all 18 of his career starts at Fresno State .... made all 10 of his free throw attempts ... has now made 11 consecutive free throws and 107 of his last 113 free throw attempts (94.7 percent).
Jayon HopkinsJa- 9 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals and 1 blocks
Scored nine points ... had a season-high 10 rebounds ... dished out at least five assists for the second time this season.
Rodney Terry, Fresno State head coach
"They have a good team. Any time you return senior guards and guards that can play the way their guards play – Macon, Barford and Beard – those are some good guards. They've been battle tested and obviously those guys played at an elite level last year. And then we let the young kid (Gafford) come in and play great. He's going to be a really good player. He effected the game at both ends of the floor."
On Fresno State…
"I think we're pretty good, too., We have to develop a mindset where we're going to persevere through some things and have some grit when we need to get meaningful stops and put consecutive stops together. We have to communicate better and not give up easy baskets in transition and we gave up some of those, especially in the first half. We didn't play particularly well, I thought, in terms of sticking to the game plan from a defensive standpoint or an offensive standpoint. When you come into environments like this, you have to come in and work the game against good teams on the road. We did a decent job of trying to attack the paint in the first half, but we didn't finish and we didn't create opportunities for other people. We settled in a little bit into the second half and started to do some things we asked our guys to do and put together a few stops, but then we'd have something come back and bite us a little bit.
On Bryson Williams and the Bulldogs' paint presence…
"Bryson was really good in the second half. The first half, I thought he was a little shaky at times and uncomfortable at times facing the basket. But that's growing pains. He's going to be better as the season goes along. We know what we can do in the paint. We're still trying to develop him facing the basket a little for us and we have to have a couple of our other post guys emerge for us and give us something, not just from a scoring standpoint, but a rebounding presence and defensive presence, and give us some positive minutes."
- This was the Bulldogs' 13th game in their history playing a SEC opponent and first-ever game in the state of Arkansas.
- This was the Bulldogs' first true road game at a SEC opponent since March 14, 2007 at Georgia in the first round of the 2007 NIT.
- With the single-digit outcome, Fresno State has now had 14 of its last 17 road games decided by nine points or fewer.
- Now looking ahead, Fresno State will head to Cancun for its game versus Evansville on Tuesday. The Bulldogs have won 15 of their last 20 games in their next game after a loss.
Up Next: Fresno State heads to Cancun, Mexico to play Evansville on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. PT and either Louisiana Tech or George Mason on Wednesday in the 2017 Cancun Challenge.