Bob Holt is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and voter for the Heisman Trophy, Biletnikoff Award and AP Top 25 basketball poll. Holt was awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year in 2000 and 2015.
Everyone pitches in for Hogs
NWA Media/JASON IVESTER -- Arkansas junior Marshawn Powell and Alcorn State senior Ian Francis go after a loose ball on the floor during the first half on Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012, at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE Alcorn State was hanging around against Arkansas at Walton Arena on Saturday night.
Then the Razorbacks turned up the defensive intensity late in the first half to take control and coast to a 97-59 victory before an announced crowd of 8,069.
“I thought our guys were in sync with one another,” Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said. “You saw guys out there playing the game the right way.
“That looked like Razorback basketball.”
The Razorbacks (5-4) outscored Alcorn State 22-3 the final 5:52 of the first half - forcing five of the Braves’ 24 turnovers in that span - to take a 53-24 halftime lead after the Braves had pulled within 31-21. Arkansas didn’t trail by fewer than 27 points the rest of the game and led by as many as 42.
“We got rattled right there at the end of the first half,” Alcorn State Coach Luther Riley said. “All they needed was a spark to get them going, and we turned the ball over and had a couple missed assignments. They hit some threes, and that was it.”
Arkansas junior forward Marshawn Powell started the Razorbacks’ late first-half run by hitting a three-pointer to push the Razorbacks’ lead to 34-21. He scored 10 points in a five-minute span, including another three-pointer that made it 51-22.
Powell finished with 18 points, 7 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocked shots in 19 minutes. He hit 7 of 9 shots, including 2 of 2 three-pointers.
“I told our guys in our scouting report that Powell plays like a grown man, so if you don’t bring your grown man game, you’re going to get exposed - and we got exposed,” Riley said. “I love his game. He can shoot, he can handle it, he can finish on the inside, he plays physical.”
Senior guard LeAntwan Luckett led Alcorn State (2-7) with 20 points.
Anderson used 14 players between 23 and 13 minutes and 13 Razorbacks scored. Junior forward Coty Clarke added 14 points, freshman forward Michael Qualls had 10, sophomore forward Hunter Mickelson had 8 and sophomore guard Ky Madden, freshman guard Dee Wagner and freshman forward Jacorey Williams had 7 each.
It was Arkansas’ first game since losing at No. 3 Michigan 80-67 last Saturday. The week break between games was because of final exams.
“We had to get the bad taste out of our mouths from the Michigan loss,” Clarke said. “We just wanted to regroup and come back to work.
“We had a long week of practice, and it was hard. We focused more on defense and rebounding. We just had to make sure we took it out there to the game.”
After the Razorbacks were out rebounded 42-26 by Michigan, they out rebounded Alcorn State 47-33 and outscored the Braves 25-8 on second chance points.
“We had that second-, third and fourth-effort rebounding the basketball,” Anderson said. “That’s what we had talked about in practice.”
Anderson also was pleased with the Razorbacks’ 24 assists on 37 baskets. He had told the players they had as few as seven assists against Wisconsin earlier this season and eight against Arizona State.
“Coach told us, ‘That’s not winning basketball,’ ” Clarke said. “So we tried to focus on sharing the ball and getting more guys involved.
“We want to trust in our teammates, and I feel like we’re showing that and building on that, and that’s how everybody was able to get their touches and score.”
Razorbacks sophomore guard BJ Young, averaging 18.0 points coming into the game, scored a season-low five points on 2-of-4 shooting in 18 minutes.
“Obviously, BJ is very important to what we do,” Anderson said. “But there are going to be some nights maybe he won’t be scoring as much, and then who are some of the guys that are going to be able to step up and provide that?
“We can see we’ve got some other pieces to our team. That’s what being a team is all about.”
Sports, Pages 25 on 12/16/2012