FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Sophomore Bobby Portis demanded the ball and he delivered. Fueled by 32 points and 11 rebounds from Portis, the No. 23 Arkansas men’s basketball team upped its win streak to seven games with an 82-70 SEC win over Vanderbilt Saturday afternoon at Bud Walton Arena.
Portis’ 32 points, which broke down to 11 in the first half and 21 in the second half, are the most by an SEC player this season. The previous best was held by junior Michael Qualls who kept pace with Portis for the team lead in 20-point games (6) with exactly 20 points, including 12 in the final frame.
With the win, Arkansas is 13-2 overall and, more importantly, 2-0 in the SEC for the first time since 2007-08. The Razorbacks snapped Vanderbilt’s (11-4, 1-1) four-game win streak while moving their home win streak to 16.
Not lost in Portis’ second career 30-point game was his 11 rebounds that completed his third double-double in the last four contests at home. Portis grabbed nine offensive rebounds, which was one more than Vanderbilt had as a team, while adding a season-best four steals with two of them resulting in two of his five dunks.
Portis was at his best in the most critical part of the game, scoring 12 points in less than five minutes at the midway point of the second half after the Commodores had cut a once double-digit deficit down to one, 51-50, with 11:34 left. The Little Rock native put the exclamation point on the five-minute span in which the Razorbacks out-scored Vanderbilt 20-10 with his fifth dunk of the game that made it 71-60 (5:46).
Portis handed over the keys to the other half of the SEC’s top-scoring duo over the final five minutes, as Qualls scored eight of the team’s last 11 points to close the 82-70 victory in front of a crowd of 16,049.
Arkansas turned 22 Vanderbilt miscues into a 31-9 edge in points off turnovers while shooting a solid 48 percent (28-59) from the field. The Commodores shot 52 percent (26-50) from the field, but were doomed by their season-high 22 turnovers and 15 offensive rebounds by the Razorbacks that led to 19 points.
Battle In The Paint
The game featured a showdown between two of the SEC’s premiere big men in Arkansas’ Bobby Portis and Vanderbilt’s Damian Jones, who are both in the top six in the SEC in scoring, rebounding and field goal percentage. Portis got off to a hot start by reaching double figures in the first half for the seventh time this year while Jones managed just two points over the first 20 minutes. Staying aggressive, Portis scored 21 of Arkansas first 35 points in the second half en route to finishing with 32 points and 11 rebounds.
#RazorStat Of The Game
A year after reaching the 20-point plateau just one time, Portis has now done so six times in the first 15 games of his sophomore campaign. His 32 points and 11 rebounds mark the first time in program history a Razorback has gone for 30 and 10 in an SEC game.
Coach Anderson Postgame Sound
“I’m proud of the energy our guys brought tonight. We needed to match the energy the crowd had and we did that. Coming down the stretch I thought we had more left in the tank and a lot of that is the energy our fans gave us. Bobby was terrific all night, not only demanding the basketball but also going to the offensive glass to give himself more opportunities. This is a good win against a well-coached basketball team.”
@RazorbackMBB Quick Hits
• The 13-2 start is the best since 2004-05.
• The 2-0 start in SEC action is the first since 2007-08.
• Over its last 25 games dating back to last year, Arkansas owns a record of 20-5.
• Arkansas has a seven-game win streak in three of its four years under head coach Mike Anderson.
• Arkansas upped its home win streak to 16 games, including six straight in SEC play.
• Won 21 straight games when leading at the half.
• Improved to 11-0 when forced 15+ turnovers and 9-0 when scoring 80+ points.
• Fourth time this season Arkansas has forced an opponent into 20 turnovers (Vandy – 22).
• The 51 combined points by Portis and Qualls is a season-best.
• Portis and Qualls have combined for 30+ points 10 times (9-1) on the year.
• Portis is averaging 26.5 points over the first two SEC games.
• Portis’ 32 points are a season-best, but three shy of his career-high set last year against Alabama.
• Portis has reached double figures in a career-best 10 straight games.
• Portis’ 21 second half equals Qualls’ team-high set against Northwestern State.
• Portis’ five dunks give him a team-high 20 on the year, three more than all of last season.
• Qualls and Portis are tied for the team lead with six 20-point games.
• Jacorey Williams reached double figures for the fourth time this year compared to three times his first two years.
Winner of four of its last six SEC road games, Arkansas will head to Knoxville, Tenn., on Tuesday to take on Tennessee. The Razorbacks were victorious in their SEC road opener this past Tuesday at Georgia and will look for their first win at Tennessee since 2006. Tip is slated for 6 p.m. CT on ESPNU.