FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Senior Mike Washington scored a season high 22 points and the Arkansas defense held Alabama State to just 27 percent from the floor as the Razorbacks walked away with a 76-51 victory at Bud Walton Arena on Wednesday night.
Arkansas (5-5) were very active on the defensive end and were dominating in the paint in the victory while Alabama State (1-7) struggled from the floor in the opening half, but came back with much better second half which was too little, too late.
"Mike got us off to a great start," Arkansas head coach John Pelphrey said. "He had a presence inside and scored baskets. I thought that at times we were sloppy with the basketball and that led to easy baskets for them. A game like this gives our players an opportunity to grow and I hope that we will. There is certainly room to improve."
Arkansas and Alabama State traded baskets for the opening minutes of the game before the Razorbacks went on an 8-1 run over 2:32 to grab a 17-9 advantage mid-way through the half. A three-point basket by the Hornets cut into the Razorbacks’ lead, but was followed by a 17-4 run by Arkansas over 6:16 in the closing minutes. The Razorbacks would go into halftime with a 36-19 lead.
Stunningly, Alabama State would go the entire first 20 minutes of play without a two-point basket. The Hornets were 5-29 from the field (17.2%) and 5-15 from three with four free throws. Alabama State’s 19 points was the smallest total by a Razorback opponent at the half this season.
In the second half, South Alabama was able to cut into the Arkansas lead, knocking it down to 14, but the Razorbacks responded with a 6-0 run to bring the lead back to 20 and hold off the swarming hornets. The Razorbacks would outscore their opponent 40-32 in the final half to finish the game with a 25-point victory.
Arkansas’ strategy for most of the game was feed the ball to its front court players and let the big men play. The Razorbacks scored 48 points in the paint compared to Alabama State’s 14. Washington was easily the most dominating force in the game with his 22 point effort but was aided on the inside by Marshawn Powell (13 points), Glenn Bryant (a career high 11 points) and Jemal Farmer (eight points). Taking care of business on the outside was Marcus Britt and Julysses Nobles who each scored eight and Stef Welsh who hit for six.
On the defensive end, the Razorbacks grabbed a season high-tying 45 rebounds, forced 15 turnovers, blocked seven shots and made eight steals. Arkansas’ defense, which held the Hornets to just 27 percent from the floor, had a fantastic night as it held its opponent to the lowest shooting percentage in at least two seasons.
Arkansas’ victory came without the assistance of leading scorer Rotnei Clarke and big man Michael Sanchez. Both players missed the contest to injuries which are day-to-day, Clarke with tendinitis in his knee and Sanchez with plantar fasciitis.
The Razorbacks are back on the court on Saturday afternoon when they take on the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks at Bud Walton Arena with a 3 p.m. tipoff. For more information regarding Razorback men’s basketball or University of Arkansas athletics, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.