FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas head coach Nolan Richardson claimed the 500th victory of his career Monday when the Razorbacks pressed their way past North Carolina-Greensboro, 89-74, at Bud Walton Arena.
Richardson becomes the 18th active NCAA Division I coach with 500 career wins. In his 21st season overall, Richardson is now 500-194 (.720), including a 381-157 (.708) mark in 17 years at Arkansas.
The Razorbacks gave Richardson the milestone victory in typical fashion, by forcing 23 turnovers and holding UNCG (5-2) to 33.9 percent shooting. Arkansas had 15 steals, including a career-high tying seven by T.J. Cleveland, and shot 50.8 percent from the floor.
“I didn’t realize how big a milestone it was until today, when Coach (Don) Haskins (his college coach) called me,” Richardson said. “He said ‘You will have 500 wins, hopefully after tonight.’ The big deal is being able to coach so long. All those 500 victories were honest victories. Right now, I’m having the most fun of my life. We lose, and I’m trying to find a way to win. Whatever happens the rest of this season, we’re going to keep working.”
A pair of freshmen were the hottest Razorbacks. J.J. Sullinger was six of 10 from the field and six of six at the line for a career-high 18 points. He also added three rebounds, three assists, two steals and a blocked shot. Redshirt freshman Michael Jones was four of five from the field and four of four at the line for a career-high 12 points. He added three rebounds and two blocked shots.
The Spartans were within 62-59 with 9:39 to play but Teddy Gipson scored on a driving layup, Jannero Pargo made a free throw and Jones scored for a 67-59 lead.
Pargo, who had a team-high 19 points on six of 10 shooting, including four of six from three-point range, hit a trey with 6:08 remaining for a 76-64 advantage.
UNCG, which trailed 42-35 at the break, never got closer, in part because the Razorbacks made a season-high 24 free throws in 33 attempts.
James Maye led the Spartans with 22 points while Courtney Eldridge added 15.
Gipson and Brandon Dean added nine points each for the Hogs while Cleveland had eight.
Arkansas is off until Dec. 20 when Tennessee-Chattanooga visits Fayetteville for a 7 p.m. game televised by ARSN.