Arkansas is not one of the worst teams in the Southeastern Conference. Saturday proved it.

Arkansas is not one of the worst teams in the Southeastern Conference. Saturday proved it.


In a league that takes a majority of its teams, blends them together and throws them back into the middle, Arkansas finds itself in that mix. Not at the top. But not at the bottom.


Arkansas stifled Tennessee for long enough in the second half to open a double-digit lead and then held it in the final minutes to win its second road game of the season, 75-65, at Thompson-Boling Arena.


The Volunteers went almost five minutes without a point as Arkansas (15-14, 8-8 in SEC) turned a three-point advantage to 11 with nine minutes left. Anton Beard did most of the damage for Arkansas, making a lay-up, a free throw and a 3-pointer to stretch the advantage and provide a breath of relief for a team seeking a strong finish to its season.


All of Beard’s points (10) came in the second half. Dusty Hannahs Bell led the team with 17 overall as he and fellow guard Anthlon Bell were the biggest reason Arkansas had a halftime lead. The two had 21 of the team’s 34 at the break. Bell finished with 16.


Tennessee (13-16, 6-10), without its leading scorer Kevin Punter, for the third consecutive game, spread its offense, too, just not a high enough clip. Armani Moore had 17 points, Admiral Schofield 15 and Shembari Phillips 13. Tennessee ran out of offensive threat in the second half, though, shooting just 34 percent.


The biggest Razorbacks advantage came from its "Fastest 40" style. Arkansas scored 21 fastbreak points to just two for Tennessee. It countered Tennessee’s big advantage rebounding, 42-33.


Arkansas sits at .500 in the league, an appropriate place for an appropriate season. The Razorbacks are not locked into any seeding for next month’s SEC Tournament. They are now guaranteed to avoid the bottom three of the league thereby avoiding having to take part in the tournament’s play-in portion thanks to being two games ahead of Tennessee.


Arkansas plays Wednesday at Alabama and Saturday at Bud Walton Arena against South Carolina to finish the regular-season. The SEC Tournament is March 9-13 in Nashville, Tennessee.


Follow Eric on Twitter: @ericwbolin