FAYETTEVILLE — The University of Arkansas men’s basketball team had 16 steals and saw four freshmen score in double figures on the way to an 86-44 defeat of Grambling State Friday evening inside Bud Walton Arena. The Razorbacks improve to 4-1 on the year, while Grambling State drops to 0-5.
Arkansas led by as many as 43 points and never trailed in the game. The Razorbacks scored 39 points off of a season high 27 forced turnovers and saw 11 different players put the ball in the basket. Arkansas also tallied 25 assists on 34 field goals made in an efficient offensive effort.
"We did a good job of moving the basketball," said Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson. "It was great to see them come out and establish tempo throughout the first half."
The Razorbacks started the game just 2-for-9 from the field but were dominant defensively from the tip, and the offense was not far behind.
Freshman point guard BJ Young sparked Arkansas when he came off the bench with 12:54 to play with the Razorbacks up 11-5. Young was energetic on both ends of the floor and in less than four minutes, Arkansas had scored 16 unanswered points to take a 27-5 lead. Young had eight points including two three-pointers, two rebounds, two assists and one steal in that four minute stretch.
With Young’s help, the Razorbacks headed into the locker room with a 41-25 lead at the half. Arkansas forced 15 Grambling State turnovers in the first period and scored 23 points off those turnovers. The Razorbacks were as relentless on the offensive glass as they were in their full court pressure, snatching 12 offensive rebounds in the first half alone.
"Our defense was really good," said Anderson of the team’s first half performance. "We had 25 deflections at the half."
Young’s impressive first half spurt was part of a 24-2 run over more than seven minutes. Arkansas also had separate runs of 12-2 and 16-3 later in the game. The Razorbacks opened up their largest lead of the game with 1:05 to play when a three-pointer by freshman walk-on Matt Thompson made it 86-43.
Freshman Hunter Mickelson was a force for Arkansas inside the paint, tallying 10 points on an array of low post moves. Mickelson also led the team with a career high eight rebounds and had three blocks. Newcomer Rashad Madden was also a strong contributor, dropping in a career high 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting including three three-pointers.
Young led the Razorbacks with 18 points and added four assists and three open-court dunks. It was the freshman’s fourth straight game scoring in double figures. Freshman forward Devonta Abron notched 10 points and five rebounds. Senior forward Marvell Waithe was a key to the Razorback press, collecting seven points, four blocks, four assists and three steals. Junior guard Julysses Nobles added seven points and six rebounds.
Roman Higgins paced Grambling State with 16 points, and PJ Roberson had a rare triple-double with 12 points, 10 rebounds and 10 blocks.
Arkansas is back inside Bud Walton Arena next Wednesday, Nov. 30 when it takes on Mississippi Valley State at 7 p.m. For more information about Razorback basketball, please log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com.