FAYETTEVILLE – Rickey Scott and BJ Young combined for 34 points and the University of Arkansas men’s basketball team won its sixth straight game Tuesday night, defeating Savannah State, 83-66, at Bud Walton Arena. Arkansas improves to 11-3 on the season in its final game before Southeastern Conference play, while Savannah State drops to 5-9.
Arkansas led by as many as many as 24 points in the second half, but a 15-0 Savannah State run whittled the lead down to six points with 3:23 remaining in the game. Senior Marvell Waithe converted three free throws after being fouled behind the arc with 2:45 left and the shot clock expiring, and scored seven points in the final three minutes to help the Razorbacks fend off the comeback attempt and stay undefeated at Bud Walton Arena this season.
"During their run, we were tentative in what we did," said Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson. "It was great to see how we responded when they cut the lead to six."
Waithe scored a career-high 14 points on 10-of-11 shooting from the free throw line, and added seven rebounds and three blocks to energize the Razorbacks down the stretch. He had a blocked shot with under a minute to play and was the first player down the court to finish with an alley-oop dunk and put Arkansas ahead by 17 points, 81-64. The Razorbacks finished the game on a 15-4 run after Savannah State’s 15-0 streak.
Young scored 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting, and the freshman guard had a transition dunk followed by a pair of free throws with just over two minutes to play that helped ensure the win. Scott’s 17 points came on an efficient 6-of-9 shooting from the field and 5-of-6 shooting from the free throw line, and he added seven rebounds.
Arkansas and Savannah State traded baskets to open the game, and the Razorbacks led 10-8 three minutes in. A methodical 11-1 run over the next eight minutes keyed by baskets from four different players helped the Razorbacks jump ahead 21-9 with 9:02 left in the half. Arkansas did not let its lead slip to under ten points for the rest of the first half, and led 42-23 at the break.
A pair of free throws by sophomore guard Mardracus Wade and a layup by freshman forward Hunter Mickelson gave Arkansas its biggest lead of the game, 57-33, with 15:17 to play. The Razorback lead hovered around 20 points until the scoring drought that lasted from the 9:39 mark to the 3:23 mark and put the Tigers down by just six.
"It was a tale of two halves," Anderson said. "In the first half, defensively we got after it. In the second half we got a lead, but didn’t finish the way I envisioned."
Wade scored 10 points on 2-of-3 shooting from the field, all three-point attempts. He shot 4-for-4 from the free throw line and added three assists and three steals. Mickelson tallied seven points, five rebounds and three blocks.
Arkansas shot an even 50 percent from the field and was 31-for-39 from the free throw line, good for 79.5 percent. The Razorbacks dominated the glass, out-rebounding the Tigers 46-28 in the game. Eight different players had three rebounds or more.
The Razorbacks return to action and open up SEC play Saturday, Jan. 7 with an 8 p.m. game against No. 15 Mississippi State inside Bud Walton Arena. For more information about Razorback basketball, please log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com.