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Recap: the Cowboys fight ‘till the end to beat the Hogs, 81-77

Cade Cunningham makes his triumphant return in the Big 12/SEC Challenge for a stressful instant classic.

NCAA Basketball: Arkansas at Oklahoma State Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports

Wow, that was stressful fun. A lot of emotional buildup preceded the game as we Remembered the 10 and Eddie Sutton was honored as a legendary coach for both programs. These on top of the Big 12/SEC Challenge event and the much anticipated return of Cade Cunningham to the lineup.

The Cowboys got off to a hot start, making their first 6 field goals while playing with a ton of fire to the tune of 3 blocks before the first timeout. Unfortunately the fast pace also led to 7 early turnovers as the Pokes only managed a 17-13 edge at the under-12 timeout.

The sloppy start continued as the Pokes amassed an atrocious 15 turnovers in the first half, but another perfect 5-5 shooting performance from Kalib Boone and an 11(!) board edge helped the Cowboys take a 38-34 lead into the half.

After forcing a turnover to start the second half the Cowboys instantly gave it back and it looked like the trend would continue, but the Cowboys were able to finally able to clean it up. However, a hot start from Arkansas gained the Hogs a two-point lead at 43-45 before the Cowboys defense was able to turn up the heat and regain them a 50-45 lead at the fifteen-minute mark.

Some... unpredictable officiating and the hot half for the Hogs continued as they gained a lead as high as 5 before the Pokes trimmed it to two at the under-eight timeout on what has become a semi-regular Isaac “Ice” Likekele (bank) 3. Avery Anderson drew the game even on a ridiculous layup before some sloppy defense gave Arkansas their five-point lead back at 64-69 and the exciting back-and-forth matchup was in full swing.

The Cowboys fought back and kept throwing punches as Cade made a couple clutch shots including an NBA stepback that gave them a 79-77 lead with less than twenty seconds remaining. Cunningham would finish the game with 21 points and go 7 for 13 from the field. Justin Smith was clutch for the Razorbacks with 18 points and went 9 for 14 from the field. In a game where Eddie Sutton was honored, it was only right that it would come down to a defensive stop to close the game. The Cowboys got it and Cade added some clutch free-throws to his ledger to give the Cowboys the two-possession lead they would take home at 81-77.

Next up, the Cowboys have a rematch with Horned Frogs as they head to Fort Worth on Feb. 3 at 6 p.m.