FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Freshman J.J. Sullinger played like a veteran and senior Brandon Dean hit some big shots down the stretch as Arkansas pulled away from Oral Roberts for a 71-57 victory Sunday in Bud Walton Arena.
Sullinger, a true freshman, made his first start and scored a game-high 16 points on six of 11 shooting. He also had six rebounds, and game highs of six assists and three steals.
“J.J. is like a Joe Johnson,” head coach Nolan Richardson said. “He doesn’t have to take a jump shot to score. He can find people in traffic and he can rebound. He showed brilliance as a freshman. That’s why I started him. I don’t believe just because you are a senior you automatically have a job.”
Oral Roberts (0-2) shot 46 percent in the first half, including four of nine from three-point range, to cut an eight-point deficit to 33-32 at the half.
Arkansas scored the first six points of the second half, four by Sullinger, but the Golden Eagles, were within 41-38 with 7:50 to go on a running jumper by Tyrone Tiggs.
Dean hit a jumper and a driving layup for a 55-48 lead. Following two Dionisio Gomez free throws, Dean converted a conventional three-point play and Sullinger scored on a layup for a 62-50 lead with 4:35 remaining. Dean and Sullinger each added dunks in the final minute.
“Dionisio, again, was my warrior today,” Richardson said. “He played the whole second half. His confidence is what is making him the player he is. He’s got everything, the whole package.”
Gomez had 10 points on four of five shooting, four rebounds, two assists, two steals and one blocked shot.
After shooting 36 percent in the opener against Maine and 35 percent against Wake Forest, the Razorbacks (2-1) hit 52 percent of the shots against ORU. Arkansas was 28 of 54, including two three-pointers in just seven attempts. The Hogs drove inside and made 26 trips to the free throw line, making 13 shots. ORU was six of 10 at the line.
Dean had 12 points on five of six shooting. Sullinger, Dean and Gomez were a combined 15 of 22 from the floor.
Matt Frazier led Oral Roberts with 14 points. Richie Myers added 13 points and Tiggs 11. Tiggs had a game-high nine points at the half on four of seven shooting but was just one of six in the second period.
Arkansas is off until Nov. 28 when the Razorbacks travel to Tulsa for a 7 p.m. game televised by ARSN.