Fueled by a 31-4 first half run and five players in double figures, the University of Arkansas men’s basketball team opened the 2013-14 season and the start of the 20th year in Bud Walton Arena with a 99-65 win over SIU-Edwardsville on Friday night.
The Razorbacks were firing on all cylinders with their #Fastest40 style of play, forcing the Cougars into 23 turnovers that resulted in a 33-3 edge in points off miscues, a 52 percent (33-64) night from the field and 42 points in the paint. Arkansas missed recording the seventh 100-point season-opening game in Bud Walton Arena history by one point.
“I’m proud of our guys' effort tonight,” said head coach Mike Anderson
, who improved to 12-0 all-time in season openers while leading the Razorbacks to their 19th straight season-opening win. “With our style, we need to build off of our defense and tonight we did that by capitalizing off turnovers. This is a team that will have a lot of balance throughout the year and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a different guy leading us every night.”
On this night, it was a pair of sophomores at the top of the five-man double figure scorers list for Arkansas, as Anthlon Bell
poured in a career-high 18 points on the strength of 5-of-6 from three-point range. Highlighted by a pair of big dunks, Michael Qualls
finished with 16 points and five rebounds. In all, the sophomore class supplied 46 points.
Making his debut as a Razorback, redshirt junior Alandise Harris
came off the pine for 15 points to lead an Arkansas bench that contributed 42 points. Senior Mardracus Wade
supplied his 33rd career double figure scoring game with 11 points in 15 minutes.
Arkansas’ leading returning scorer and rebounder, senior Coty Clarke
led the way on the glass with eight caroms that were part of a 42-34 advantage for the Razorbacks. Included in those 42 rebounds were 16 on the offensive end, as nine different players grabbed an offensive rebound. Clarke also added 10 points to round out the double-digit scorers.
Trailing 10-7 early in the game, Arkansas embarked on a game-changing 31-4 run that absorbed nearly 10 minutes. Over the run that saw the Razorbacks score 10 straight to open and 12 in a row to close, Arkansas came away with points on 13-of-18 possessions, went 10-of-15 from the field and saw seven different players score.
Thanks to the run, the Razorbacks took a 56-27 lead into the locker room behind 19-of-35 shooting from the floor and 20 points off SIUE turnovers. Bell scored 12 of his 18 points in the opening half, while Harris’s 11 led the rotation off the bench that nearly out-scored the Cougars on their own (26-27).
The Razorback lead never dipped below 24 points in the second half, reaching as high as 38, 99-61, with 40 seconds to play.
SIU-Edwardsville was led by Tim Johnson’s 13 points, while it shot 39 percent (25-64) from the floor.
Arkansas will return to Bud Walton Arena on Friday, Nov. 15, when it hosts Louisiana-Lafayette. Tip is slated for 7 p.m. The game is part of the EA SPORTS Maui Invitational, which the Razorbacks will take part in Nov. 25-27.
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