Powered by a combined 42 points and 30 rebounds from the frontline of senior Coty Clarke
and freshmen Moses Kingsley
and Bobby Portis
, the Arkansas men’s basketball team shot a blistering 61 percent from the field en route to a start-to-finish 102-56 win over visiting Tennessee-Martin on Thursday night at Bud Walton Arena.
Entering as the top scoring team in the SEC and 19th in the nation, the Razorbacks were firing on all cylinders, as they hit the century mark for the second time this season to improve to 8-2 on the season while extending their home win streak to 21 games, good for the fifth-longest current streak in the country. The win also pushes Arkansas’ overall win streak to four games, while UT Martin had its three-game streak snapped to fall to 5-9.
“Tonight I thought we played really well on both ends of the floor, but it was our defense that set the tone and allowed us to get off to a good start,” said head coach Mike Anderson
. “Our guys were active tonight and that led to a big difference on the boards and getting steals, both things that help us get into our style of play.”
The aforementioned trio of Clarke, Kingsley and Portis were also active on the defensive end, blocking seven of the team’s eight shots on a night the Razorbacks limited the Skyhawks to just 28 percent shooting (19-69) from the field. On the flipside, Arkansas knocked down 42-of-69 from the field, including 10-of-21 from three-point land. Out of their 102 points, the Razorbacks scored 54 in the paint, highlighted by seven dunks.
A game after his classmate and former AAU teammate Portis collected his first career double-double, Kinglsey followed suit with 12 points and a game-high 12 rebounds for his first career double-dip. Portis nearly made it two straight games with a double-double, as he and Clarke finished with 15 points, nine rebounds and two blocks.
Making his fourth consecutive start during Arkansas’ current four-game win streak, junior Rashad Madden
headlined a quartet of players that manned the point guard position with 11 points in 20 minutes for his fourth straight double figure outing. Madden along with seniors Rickey Scott Jr.
, Fred Gulley III
and Kikko Haydar
helped Arkansas pass out a season-high 24 assists with just 12 turnovers. Scott Jr. led the way with a team-best five assists and seven points, while Gulley III and Haydar each buried a pair of threes.
Behind a jumper by Clarke on the opening possession of the game, the Razorbacks took the lead and never looked back thanks to a 12-2 run that gave the home team a double figure lead just 5:06 into the game. Clarke was the catalyst during the fast start, accounting for seven points, including an old-fashioned three-point play to finish the spurt.
The double-digit lead was there to stay after the 10:48 mark in the first half, as Arkansas carried a 20-point lead into the locker room for the third time this season with a 49-25 advantage. It marked the third time this season Arkansas hasn’t trailed in a game, while it hasn’t fallen behind by more than two possessions in the last four contests.
UT Martin was led by Terrence Smith’s 19 points, as he accounted for six of the team’s 19 made field goals. The Skyhawks committed just 13 turnovers against Arkansas’ #Fastest40 style of play, but eight of those were steals by the Razorbacks that aided in their 21-3 edge in points off miscues.
Finding his way back into the lineup, sophomore Michael Qualls
also found his way back into double figures with 11 points after failing to do so for the first time this season in the team’s last outing. Classmate Anthlon Bell
nearly made it six Razorbacks in double-digits as he finished with nine points.
Arkansas will now turn its attention to South Alabama before the Christmas break hits, as the two teams will square off at Verizon Arena in North Little Rock on Saturday at 7 p.m. For more information on Arkansas basketball, follow @RazorbackMBB