FAYETTEVILLE – Sophomore Hunter Mickelson scored a career high 16 points in leading the University of Arkansas basketball team to a 79-74 victory over Robert Morris at Bud Walton Arena on Thursday night for its second-straight victory. Sophomore BJ Young scored 23 points with five assists and five boards en route to the Razorback win.
“Tonight’s game, I thought, was a good check for our team against a very solid Robert Morris squad,” head coach Mike Anderson said.
Against the Colonials it was the veteran players that really stepped up, as four Razorbacks, all starters, finished in double-figures. Young led the way with the 10th 20-plus point game in his career, Mickelson tallied 16, junior Mardracus Wade ended the night with a season-high 14 and junior Marshawn Powell finished just short of a double-double with 12 points and nine rebounds.
“It was good to see Hunter come in the second half after being in foul trouble in the first,” Anderson said. “He was moving around better and it’s good to see him evolve and mature as a player.”
The Razorbacks’ rebounding efforts continued to show improvement as they out-rebounded the Colonials 41-33. Arkansas’ ability to score down low was also a game-changer, as the Hogs scored 44 points in the paint.
The Razorbacks had their hands full in the opening minutes as the Colonials held the lead for much of the first half. Robert Morris went on a 6-0 run over 1:59 to lengthen their lead to 25-17. Wade knocked down a pair of free throws to begin to close the gap. With 8:11 remaining on the clock and down six, Powell tipped in a layup and just 14 seconds later BJ Young sank another, bringing Arkansas within two (25-23) and sending the crowd to its feet.
At the 6:13 mark the Razorbacks regained the lead for the first time since 14:32 in the first after a jumper by Jacorey Williams. Both teams would fight over the lead for the rest of the half, but it was the Hogs who ended up on top at the close of the first. The teams entered the locker room with Arkansas holding a one-point lead, 35-34.
Leading Arkansas on the court in the first was Young, who racked up eight points, four rebounds and a team-leading three assists. Wade led Arkansas with a double-digit scoring performance in the first with 10 points.
The second half was nothing short of excitement as the Razorbacks went on an 8-0 run led by Wade and Mickelson. The run began at the 14:39 mark with a layup by Wade. Mickelson and Wade would each score four points to put Arkansas up 53-44. Arkansas’ largest lead would come at the 11:18 mark when junior, and Fayetteville native, Kikko Haydar picked off Robert Morris and darted down the court scoring on a mid-range jumper to give Arkansas an 11-point lead, 57-46.
Robert Morris would keep up the pressure, coming within three points of the Razorbacks with 2:50 remaining, 71-68. Young would take matters into his own hands in the final 34 seconds as he scored the final five points for Arkansas to seal the Razorbacks second-straight win.
“I saw some guys grow up in front of my eyes,” he said. “When they went up on us, we did not panic or falter and we got the win.”
The Razorbacks will travel to Little Rock to take on Alabama A&M at Verizon Arena on Saturday at 7 p.m.