FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) _ Kevaughn Allen scored 18 points and Florida narrowly avoided blowing a large second-half lead for a second straight game in a 57-51 win at Arkansas on Wednesday night.
The win is the third straight and fifth in the last six games in Fayetteville for the Gators (9-5, 1-1 Southeastern Conference), who were coming off a home loss to South Carolina last week _ a game in which they led by 14 points with 11 minutes remaining.
Florida led by 16 points with 9:13 remaining against the Razorbacks (10-4, 1-1), only to see that lead shrink to 53-51 with under a minute remaining. Allen, originally from Arkansas, hit four free throws in the final 12 seconds to secure the win for the Gators and finished 11 of 12 from the line.
Noah Locke also finished in double figures with 10 points for Florida, which held Arkansas to just 30 percent (15 of 50) shooting. Allen scored 11 first-half points as Florida built a 33-22 halftime lead, and the Gators appeared well on their way to a comfortable victory before the Razorbacks rallied.
Mason Jones scored a career-high 30 points for Arkansas, finishing 7 of 13 from the field and hitting 12 of 13 free throws in the loss. Razorbacks standout Daniel Gafford played with four fouls for much of the second half and finished with nine points and 12 rebounds.
Florida was in desperate need of a win on Wednesday after opening SEC play with a home loss to South Carolina, a game in which the Gators let a 14-point lead with 11 minutes remaining slip away. A loss against the Razorbacks would have had Florida facing the real possibility of an 0-3 start to conference play with No. 3 Tennessee visiting Gainesville on deck _ and two road games after that.
Florida hosts the Volunteers on Saturday.
The Razorbacks host LSU on Saturday.