FAYETTEVILLE – Freshman B.J. Young scored early and scored often as he totaled his first double-double as a Razorback Tuesday night, helping the University of Arkansas men’s basketball team to a 67-59 win over Utah Valley in Bud Walton Arena. The St. Louis native finished the night as the game’s leading scorer with 18 points and pulled down 11 rebounds.
Even though the Razorbacks (3-1) or the Wolverines (3-2) did not fare well from the field, Arkansas found itself down late in the second half and was looking at a four point deficit with four minutes to play. The Hogs then went to work as an 11-0 run over the next three and a half minutes solidified the victory. Julysses Nobles got the run going with the first three points. Then, Mardracus Wade hit a huge three-pointer with 2:50 to play the push the Razorbacks out in front, 60-58. It was the final lead change of the night as Arkansas built upon that lead to eight points when the final buzzer sounded.
"We’re happy to get the win," Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson said. "It wasn’t a thing of beauty, but we can learn from it. B.J. (Young) injected a lot of energy into this team. The team was down late, but didn’t panic and from a teacher to learner’s perspective, that’s definitely a good thing."
Young wasn’t the only Razorback in double-digit scoring as Nobles and Wade both added 14 and 11 points respectively. It was the third point total in double figures for Nobles this season and second highest this year. For Wade, it was also his second highest total of the season.
The game was scoreless in the early goings of the first half, but after getting a free throw from Rickey Scott to open the scoring, Utah Valley took the early lead from a three-pointer by Holton Hunsaker. Not to be outdone, Nobles sank his first three-point shot of the game and was followed by a nice Devonta Abron hook shot to give the Hogs a 6-3 lead.
Arkansas continued to stay in front of the Wolverines by the midway point of the first half, getting a nice two-handed dunk from Hunter Mickelson to make it 13-9 with 11:38 to go. That dunk was followed by a 7-2 run over the next four minutes thanks in large part to Rashad Madden, who had five of those seven points during the run. After B.J. Young completed the run with layup, the scoreboard read 20-11 with 8:08 to play in the first half.
The Razorbacks continued to hold the lead over five points for the next four minutes, but then extended that lead to their largest of the half. After a three-point trey from Young, Abron continued to be a monster inside the paint as he sank another nice mid-range shot to make it 27-17 with 3:35 left in the first half. Abron went into the locker room at halftime with the second largest point total at nine with three rebounds. Young led all scorers with nine points and three rebounds.
The big lead was shortly lived before the halftime buzzer sounded as Utah Valley ended the half on a 6-0 run to cut the deficit to 27-23. Both teams from the floor shot an identical 32 percent from the field, but Arkansas scored 12 of its points off turnovers. The Razorbacks totaled eight steals and caused 13 Wolverine turnovers in the first half.
At the beginning of the second half, the Hogs held on to leads of five and six, but the Wolverine shooters kept staying around with big performances by Keith Thompson, who had 13 points, as well as Geddes Robinson and Ben Aird, who each had 12 points.
Thompson’s jumper at the 11:53 mark of the second half cut the Arkansas lead to 40-38, but Scott sank four straight free throws right after to build up his team’s lead again. Young capped a 5-1 run by the Hogs with a layup to make it 46-39 with 10:21 to play.
The seven point lead enjoyed by the Razorbacks was the largest that was enjoyed in the half before Utah Valley made their 8-0 run to take the lead for the first time in the game. Over two and a half minutes, the Wolverines continued to get inside and get points in the paint. Robinson, Thompson and Aird all contributed to the run.
Arkansas finished the night shooting 33 percent from the field and was 20-of-24 from behind the free-throw line. The Hogs continued to play fast basketball in the second half as they totaled 17 points off turnovers, 13 of which were scored in a fast break.
The Razorbacks return to the court on Saturday when they take on Grambling State at 7 p.m. inside Bud Walton Arena for the final game of the Southwest Showcase.