FAYETTEVILLE – Three Razorback players scored in double figures on Wednesday night to lead the men’s basketball team to their third straight win to start the season over Southeast Missouri State, 66-56 at Bud Walton Arena. Despite shooting barely 40 percent from the field, the Hogs saw junior Rotnei Clarke (19), sophomore Julysses Nobles (13) and sophomore Delvon Johnson (10) hit the double-digit point total.
With the victory Arkansas moves to 3-0 on the season, while Southeast Missouri State falls to 0-5. The last time the Razorbacks started the year 3-0 was during the 2006-07 season when they opened the year at 5-0.
“We’re very fortunate to come out with a win tonight,” said Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey. “We didn’t do a good job rebounding and Southeast Missouri St. came in ready to play tonight. We need to compete for better rebounds.”
Early in the first half, the Razorbacks didn’t quite come out on fire as much as has been seen in the first two games of the season. The Redhawks jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead before the Hogs got their first field goal nearly four minutes into the game. A jumper and a three-pointer by Rotnei Clarke got the Hogs into a groove as they went on to score the next 12 of 14 points and take a 13-6 lead at the 13:05 mark in the first half.
Despite starting the season 0-4, Southeast Missouri State clearly came to play in the first half, forcing Arkansas to shoot only 36 percent from the field, their lowest so far this season. The Redhawks were not much better on the offensive side, however, but were able to score 13 second chance points off 11 offensive rebounds. Throughout the first half, the Redhawks won the rebounding battle altogether, 23-15.
After leading by only two with eight minutes to play in the first half, the Hogs actually built their lead up to as much as 10 after a couple of layups by Nobles, but the play of the Redhawks big man, Leon Powell, took SEMO to within four heading into halftime, 34-30. Powell finished the half with nine points and five rebounds. On the Arkansas side, Clarke again led his team in points with 10, while Nobles followed up with eight and Delvon Johnson had five.
Coming out in the second half, the Redhawks struck first with a three-pointer by Lucas Nutt to make it a one point game, but the Razorbacks were not about the let the lead slip away. A 9-2 run to start the half saw Arkansas push their one point lead out to 10 in a matter of four minutes. After a couple of Redhawk free throws, the Razorbacks continued to get good inside jumpers from Clarke and Nobles, who combined for 14 points in the second half alone.
The Hogs were able to get their lead out to 15 by the 8:59 mark after a three-pointer by Nobles, but the SEMO attack led by Marcus Brister and Powell cut that to as little as nine late in the game. Good Razorback defense, once again, became the story that kept the Redhawks at bay as sophomore Glenn Bryant and Johnson made it a block party in the second half. Each player had two blocks in the second half alone. Bryant finished with three on the night, while Johnson finished with four. Three other members on the team had one blocked shot. This is the third straight game the Razorbacks have blocked at least eight shots.
The Razorbacks finished the night shooting an even 40 percent from the field, but were only 33 percent from three-point land. The Redhawks shot 33 percent for the game and had three players in double figure scoring. Leon Powell led the way with 12 points, while Marcus Brister and Anthony Allison each had 10.
The Hogs will be back on the court once again after the Thanksgiving holiday, this time down in Little Rock’s Verizon Arena. There, they will take on UAB on Friday night with tip-off scheduled for 7 p.m. For more information on the Razorback men’s basketball team, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.