FAYETTEVILLLE, Ark. – A 17-4 run late in the second half and 20-point games from juniors Michael Qualls and Anthlon Bell helped the No. 25 Arkansas men’s basketball team remain unbeaten with a 94-77 win over high-scoring MAAC favorite Iona on Sunday afternoon at Bud Walton Arena.
The win moves the Razorbacks to 6-0 on the season, good for their best start since 1997-98 and first perfect month of November since 2004-05. Iona, who scored 126 point in its last game, was held 11 points below their season scoring average en route to dropping to 4-2.
Bell was Arkansas’ biggest offensive threat over the first 25 minutes of the game, scoring 18 of his 20 points over that span, including five three-pointers. Bell’s final two points of the game came at the free throw line with 7:14 to play, giving the Memphis native his second 20-point game of the season and kick-starting a game-changing 17-4 run over the next 3:48.
After his two free throws, Bell passed the scoring baton to Qualls, who took over by scoring 11 of the team’s next 15 points during the 17-4 run while the hot-shooting Gaels’ six-man rotation started to fall victim to Arkansas’ depth. Iona went 2-for-7 during the run with a turnover while Qualls hit two three-pointers and completed a traditional three-point play that gave the Razorbacks their largest lead of the game (15), at 84-69.
Entering the game as the SEC leader in threes per game, Bell strengthened his start with a 5-for-10 night from long range while Qualls went 3-for-7 from three as the duo made a combined eight threes for the second straight contest. Qualls and Bell are the second Arkansas tandem to score 20 points in the same game this season. On the flipside, Iona shot 7-of-23 from three-point land, which is six threes below its NCAA-leading average.
Senior Rashad Madden continued to celebrate Thanksgiving with his second straight stat-stuffing night that included 16 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and two steals. Sophomore Bobby Portis was the final Razorback in double figures with 11 points and joined Qualls with a team-best nine rebounds.
Arkansas’ depth helped force Iona into 18 turnovers that led to a 25-15 edge in points off miscues. The Razorbacks’ also controlled the boards with 21 offensive caroms that led to 20 points compared to just five second chance points for Iona.
Worthy Of A Hog Call (#WPS)
Qualls scored 11 of his 20 points over a 3:28 span during Arkansas’ critical 17-4 run late in the second half. Qualls has now reached 20 points two straight games for the first time in his career and a team-leading three times on the year.
@RazorbackMBB Quick Hits
• Tonight was Arkansas’ sixth game over a 15-day span to open the year.
• The 6-0 start is Arkansas’ first since 1997-98.
• First unbeaten November since 2004-05.
• One of two unbeaten teams in the SEC.
• Arkansas is one of four teams in the nation to score at least 78 points in every game this season.
• Arkansas has led at the half 10 straight games dating back to last year.
• The win was Arkansas’ 381st all-time as a ranked team.
• Arkansas has won 19 straight home games against non-conference teams.
• A player has scored 20 points in five of six games this season.
• Arkansas scored 50 points in the second half for the third time this year.
• Bell hit his 100th career three-pointer late in the first half.
• The 20-point game was the fourth of Bell’s career.
• Arkansas is 14-2 all-time when Bell reaches double figures.
• Qualls has scored 20 points in 5 of his last 15 games after doing so just once his first 55 games.
• Madden has led Arkansas in assists in five of six games.
• Second straight game Madden has had at least 15 points, seven assists and five rebounds.
Coach Anderson Postgame Sound
“I thought our depth was the difference tonight against a very good attacking Iona club. We stressed to the guys that 40 minutes of pressure would eventually take its toll and it did late in the second half. They (Iona) have some really talented scorers and I thought our guys did as good job of staying with them in the second half.”
• The Arkansas bench out-scored Iona by a 19-2 margin.
• Sixth time this season Arkansas has forced double-digit turnovers in a half (Iona 11 in the first)
• Fourth time this season Arkansas has scored 25+ points off turnovers.
• Iona is the fifth team this year to finish with more turnovers than assists against the Razorbacks.
• Arkansas has won the turnover battle in 89 of 104 games under coach Anderson.
After playing six games over a 15-day span, No. 25 Arkansas will have three days off before heading to No. 13 Iowa State on Thursday. The game is part of the SEC/Big 12 Challenge and will be televised on ESPN2 starting at 8 p.m. CT.