FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Sophomore Rotnei Clarke scored a school record 51 points including a school and Southeastern Conference record 13 three-point baskets to lead the Arkansas Razorback men’s basketball team to a 130-68 win over Alcorn St. at Bud Walton Arena on Friday night.
The Razorbacks open the season with a 1-0 for the third time under head coach John Pelphrey and did so in grand fashion, scoring 71 points in the first half and nearly breaking the Bud Walton Arena record of 137 points in a game.
"I felt good about tonight," Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey said after the game. "You need to give a lot of credit to the guys who came up with that kind of effort. Good for them. They turned down shots so they could move the ball."
Clarke led four Razorbacks in double digits as they opened the year with their highest point total in school history for a season opener, breaking the 114-point effort they put forth on Nov. 16, 1997 against Northeastern Illinois. The record-setting night for Clarke had the sophomore from Verdigris, Okla.; hit 15-21 from the floor, 13-17 from three-point land and 8-9 from the charity stripe to account for his 51 points. Clarke set Arkansas records for points in a game, points in a game at Bud Walton Arena and three-point baskets in a game, his three-point effort broke the SEC record as well. Clarke broke the school record of Martin Terry (SMU, 1973) for points who had 47 and Al Dillard (Delaware St, 1993) for points at Bud Walton Arena (39) and three-point baskets (12).
"Phenomenal, unbelievable," Pelphrey said of his shooting guard’s performance. "I wasn’t surprised to see him shoot the ball like that. He is capable of making the shots, but his teammates need to get him the ball. They were able to do that and understand where he was going to be. I haven’t seen a better performance than that."
Lost in Clarke’s exploits was the play of junior college transfer Jamal Farmer who lit the baskets at Bud Walton for 28 points in his first game as a Razorback. Farmer posted a double-double in his first collegiate effort by grabbing a game high 12 rebounds. He also had six assists with no turnovers in 33 minutes of action. Freshman Marshawn Powell also posted a double-double in his first game at Arkansas with 17 points and 11 rebounds and had five blocked shots. Mike Washington only played 17 minutes due to early foul trouble but still contributed 14 points and four blocks in the win.
The Razorbacks came out ready to play in the opening minutes, but it wasn’t until nearly two minutes into the contest that things really got hot. Arkansas took the early lead and was up by one, 7-6, at the 18:16 mark in the first half. Arkansas then went on a 16-0 run on the strength of three Clarke three pointers to build a comfortable 23-6 advantage and never looked back.
Arkansas’ stunning shooting continued as the first half progressed and the Razorbacks outscored the Braves 40-12 through the 9:58 mark. The Hogs ended the first 20 minutes of play with a Bud Walton Arena record 71 points in the first half and held an awe-inspiring 45 point lead. The Razorbacks hit nearly 59 percent from the floor, 58.8 percent from three and 72.2 percent from the free-throw line.
Along with Arkansas’ gaudy numbers from the floor, the Razorback defense was also very good. The Hogs blocked 10 Alcorn St. shots and grabbed 14 steals while forcing 24 Brave turnovers. The Hogs scored 46 of their 130 points off Alcorn St. turnovers and 48 points in the paint.
Freshman point guard Julysses Nobles, starting his first game as a collegiate player, scored just eight points, but his efforts over 32 minutes on the floor were very inspiring to Pelphrey and his staff. The Jackson, Miss., native dished out nine assists and committed just two turnovers while stealing five passes and grabbing three rebounds.
The Razorbacks are back in action on Tuesday night when they take on No. 20 Louisville at the Scottrade Center For more information regarding Razorback men’s basketball or University of Arkansas athletics, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.