FAYETTEVILLE – Junior Rotnei Clarke led all scorers with 20 points and five three-pointers in the game to lead the Razorback men’s basketball team to a 75-52 victory over the Grambling State Tigers on Thursday night at Bud Walton Arena. This was Clarke’s first 20-point game of the season and sixth of his career.
Along with Clarke, six other Razorbacks scored at least seven points in the game and help the team shoot 47 percent from the field and 38 percent from the three-point line. With the victory, the Hogs have now won 16 straight season openers dating back to the 1995-1996 season.
“I thought that we came out in the first half with tremendous energy,” Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey said. “We moved the ball very well and found the open man. We didn’t do that as well in the second half and that is something that we will need to work on over the next couple of days. I thought that Rotnei’s shooting picked us up in the first half and he had a very good night.”
The first half of the game got started much like the two exhibition games earlier in the month as Clarke kicked it off with none other than a three-pointer for the first points of the game. Then, Glenn Bryant got a breakaway dunk to make it 5-0 in the first three minutes, causing Grambling State coach Bobby Washington to call an early timeout.
After going on a 10-0 run later in the half, to make it 15-3, the Hogs scored only four points over the next four minutes to allow the Tigers to close the gap at 19-11. However, the Hogs were not going to let the Tigers be spoilers of their home opener, as they got three-pointers from sophomore Julysses Nobles, Clarke, and senior Marcus Britt to push the lead out to 33-17 at the 4:05 mark in the first half.
As the intermission neared, the Hogs ended the half on a 12-5 run over the last four minutes to secure a comfortable 20 point lead over the Tigers, 42-22.
Rotnei Clarke led all scorers in the first half with 17, shooting all from behind the three-point line. He was also a perfect 5-for-5 from the free throw line. Marcus Britt followed up with seven points of his own with three steals.
Continuing the strong defensive theme from the two exhibition games, the Razorbacks racked up eight total steals and three blocks. All three blocks came on the strength of sophomore Delvon Johnson, who finished with five blocks in the game.
The second half of the game was practically the same story just a different verse as the Razorbacks pushed their lead up to as much as 26 after freshman Rickey Scott scored a layup at the 10:50 mark. Scott finished seven points and was a perfect 3-for-3 from the field, all in the second half. The Hogs never let their lead drop below 20 for the rest of the game.
With the victory, Pelphrey is now 7-2 all-time as a head coach in season openers and 4-0 as the head coach at Arkansas.
The Hogs will continue their season next Monday, November 22nd, when they take on Eagles of Florida Gulf Coast at Bud Walton Arena. That game will tip off at 7 p.m. For all information regarding the Razorback men’s basketball team, log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com.