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.
ARKANSAS 95, ALABAMA A&M 68:
Becomes 35th Hog over 1,000
Arkansas' Marshawn Powell drives to the basket in the second half against Alabama A&M's Saturday night at Verizon Arena in North Little Rock. He finished with 20 points.
LITTLE ROCK Junior forward Marshawn Powell enjoyed one of the best moments of his Arkansas basketball career at the same place where he suffered one of his worst moments.
Powell joined the 1,000-point club Saturday night while leading the Razorbacks to a 95-68 victory over Alabama A&M in Verizon Arena in North Little Rock before an announced crowd of 9,760.
The career milestone for Powell came on the same court where he tore ligaments in his right knee during a practice Nov. 17, 2011, the day before the Razorbacks lost to Houston 87-78 while still shellshocked from losing their All-SEC team leader.
Powell, who scored 20 points Saturday night for 1,001 in 73 career games, said he didn’t think about what happened to him in Verizon Arena last year.
“I think negative thoughts will bring negative things,” Powell said. “I just came out here and focused and tried to play as good as I can.”
Powell became the 35th Razorback to score 1,000 or more points,
“It makes me feel like I’ve been here for a while, but then again it makes me feel special that only 34 other people have done it, and Arkansas has had a lot of good players,” he said. “To be acknowledged as one of the better players and to score 1,000 points feels good.”
Powell hit 9 of 13 shots and also had 6 rebounds — 5 offensive — with 3 steals and 2 assists in 22 minutes.
“Marshawn’s confidence continues to grow each and every game,” Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said. “He’s trying to do everything he can to help our team win. He’s trying to lead by example; and with winning, a lot of individual accolades are coming.
“It wasn’t just his scoring. He ran the floor and finished off plays, blocked shots, rebounded in traffic. I thought he put on a pretty good performance, and I thought our team did as well.”
Alabama A&M Coach Willie Hayes said he was impressed by Powell’s all-around game, but especially his hustle to get fast-break baskets.
“Powell can really get down the floor,” Hayes said. “He doesn’t look like a guy coming off knee surgery. We tried to get back on defense, and he kept beating us.”
Powell reached 1,001 points on a dunk with 16:52 left on an assist from sophomore guard BJ Young that put the Razorbacks ahead 60-36. Young had 13 points and a career-high 9 assists.
“BJ continues to show some of his versatility as a distributor,” Anderson said. “At the same time, he was able to create and score and did some good things defensively.”
Junior forward Coty Clarke had 10 points and eight rebounds for the Razorbacks (7-4). Freshman forward Jacorey Williams scored 10 points. Sophomore forward Hunter Hunter Mickelson had nine points and six rebounds. Junior guard Rickey Scott and sophomore guard Ky Madden each had eight points.
Junior guard Jeremy Crutcher led Alabama A&M (3-7) with 16 points. Junior forward Demarquelle Tabb added 15 points.
“I like Powell’s and Young’s games a lot, but they’ve got a lot of other guys that contribute, too,” Hayes said. “If Arkansas keeps playing like that, they’re going to be pretty good.”
The Razorbacks, who started 7 of 7 from the field and jumped out to a 22-8 lead, had 22 assists on 36 baskets and limited their turnovers to 9.
“Our guys came out with great focus,” Anderson said. “I thought our defense was really intact and we played with a lot of effort and a lot of energy. We played the game the right way.
“We were unselfish on offense. We were in attack mode, pushing the ball and sharing the ball. There were some great, great passes out there where some guys were making the extra pass.”
The Bulldogs closed within 40-32, but Arkansas outscored Alabama A&M 11-0 the final 5:18 of the first half, including four points each for Powell and Scott, to take a 51-34 halftime lead. Alabama A&M didn’t pull closer than 17 points in the second half.
Arkansas broke a threegame losing streak at Verizon Arena and won there for just the second time in the building in its last seven appearances.
Powell said it was nice to give fans in central Arkansas a victory, especially when he had to miss last season’s game.
“It was alive in there,” Powell said. “I liked it.”
Powell made sure the crowd had plenty to cheer about.
Arkansas 95, Alabama A&M 68
Mississippi St. 79, Central Arkansas 72 Georgia 64, Southern Cal 56 Mercer 66, Alabama 59 Marquette 84, LSU 80 Southern 53, Texas A&M 51 Kentucky 82, Marshall 54 Indiana State 87, Mississippi 85, OT South Carolina 63, Manhattan 57 Missouri 82, Illinois 73 Winthrop 74, Auburn 67 Kansas State 67, Florida 61
TODAY’S GAME — All times Central
Mississippi vs. San Francisco, 2 p.m.
Mississippi vs. TBA at Honolulu, TBA
Houston Baptist at LSU, 7 p.m. Missouri at UCLA, 9 p.m.
Sports, Pages 25 on 12/23/2012