FAYETTEVILLE – Junior Rotnei Clarke added his name to another Razorback record on Wednesday night. This time becoming the fastest Razorback to score 200 three-point shots in a career and helping the Hogs soundly defeat the Oklahoma Sooners, 84-74, at Bud Walton Arena. It only took Clarke 66 games to set the record, passing Pat Bradley, who did hold the record at 73 games.
With the victory, the Razorbacks are now 4-1 on the year, while Oklahoma falls to 3-4 and has now lost four straight.
A season high crowd saw Clarke put on a clinic throughout the first half and into the second half as he had 12 points before the record-breaking three. At the 11:18 mark in the second half, Clarke sank his third three of the game to give himself the record. That would be the last three-pointer in the game for Clarke, but he would go on to add five more points to lead the team in scoring for the fourth time this season.
The rest of the Razorback team did not disappoint offensively in the 10 point victory. Throughout the entire second half, the Hogs seemed very much in control, building leads to as much as 17. Oklahoma did make a run, however, late in the second period, getting within seven after a three by Nick Thompson. But clutch free throws in the final minutes by Clarke, Julysses Nobles, and Delvon Johnson saw the Razorbacks come out on top.
“Everyone had a chance to be a part of this game,” said Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey. “We took care of the basketball and made our free throws, which let us play well enough to win. We had a good start to the second half, but they made a run there at the end. We were able to convert on a couple of plays and hold on to get a big win.”
Junior Jeff Peterson followed up his breakout performance against UAB with another huge game, this time going for 15 points, good for second on the team, and was 8-for-9 from the free throw line. As a team, Arkansas was much improved shooting from the field, going 28-55 (51%) and 5-11 (46%) from three-point land.
Even with an improved offense from a game ago, the defense continued to have their stellar start to the season. Eight blocks and 11 steals helped the Razorbacks force 22 Sooner turnovers. Six of those blocks came from Johnson and sophomore Glenn Bryant, who each had three in the game. Also, the Razorbacks took six charges in the game, which bumps their season total up to 11 this year. Coming into this game, the Hogs only had taken five charges total in four games.
The Sooners jumped out to an early 4-0 lead in the first half, before the Hogs finally got on the board with a free throw by Peterson in the second minute of the game. Partnered with a 12-5 run to start the game, the Razorbacks found themselves in a comfortable position early, including the sharpshooter, Clarke, who had seven of those 12. Those would be the only points in the first half for Clarke, good enough to lead the team.
Both teams would trade buckets throughout most of the first half with the Hogs never relinquishing the lead. Oklahoma would get the deficit to one at the 8:39 mark after a layup by Steven Pledger. However, the Hogs would get another 9-0 run over the next three and half minutes to take a 10 point lead. A lead they would not let drop below six for the remainder of the half. Arkansas led Oklahoma, 43-37, as both teams went into the locker room.
Nine Razorbacks scored at least one point in the first half, led by Clarke who had seven, followed by Delvon Johnson and Marvell Waithe, who tied with six. Both teams shot a reasonable percentage from the field as well with Arkansas shooting 57 percent and Oklahoma shooting 49 percent.
Defense has become a key trait for this Arkansas team and this game was no different in the first half. The Hogs had 11 points off six Sooner turnovers, as well as getting four blocks and four steals. Two of those blocks came from the hands of Delvon Johnson, who now has 17 this season.
The basketball team will be back in action this Saturday when they take on Troy at Bud Walton Arena with the tip-off scheduled for 2 p.m. For everything concerning Razorback men’s basketball, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.