Matt Jones has been the online sports editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette since 2010. He is also a feature writer for Hawgs Illustrated magazine and is currently pursuing a Masters degree in journalism.
Hogs pull away late
Arkansas outscores Savannah State by 27 after halftime
Arkansas forward Bobby Portis, 10, lobs the ball down the court during the second half of a NCAA college basketball game against Savannah State Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013 at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville, Ark. Arkansas defeated Savannah State 72-43. (AP Photo/Gareth Patterson)
FAYETTEVILLE It wasn't pretty, but Arkansas pulled out a win Thursday night.
Rashad Madden scored a career-high 21 points as the Razorbacks pulled away in the second half to beat Savannah State 72-43 at Bud Walton Arena.
RECORDS: Arkansas 7-2, Savannah State 2-9
LEADING SCORERS: Arkansas, Rashad Madden 21; Savannah State, Joshua Montgomery and Alante Fenner 10 apiece
TURNING POINT: Arkansas began the second half with a 12-2 run after leading 27-25 at halftime.
NOTABLE: Arkansas leading scorer Michael Qualls was suspended for the first half after arriving late to a team practice. Senior Mardracus Wade did not play for the second consecutive game.
Arkansas led by only two points at halftime, playing one of its most inefficient offensive games of the year. The Razorbacks shot 43.5 percent from the field, but made only 5 of 19 3-point attempts and 13 of 26 attempts from the free throw line against the Tigers, ranked last in college basketball's Ratings Performance Index (RPI) entering the game.
Arkansas (7-2) made up for the offensive ineptness by stifling the Savannah State offense. The Tigers scored only 18 points after halftime - four of which came in the final minute - and were limited to a 31.4 percent field goal percentage.
The Razorbacks had runs of 12-2 and 14-2 to take control of the game in the second half. Michael Qualls, the team's leading scorer, didn't play until the second half and finished with seven points, including a 3-pointer just before the final buzzer.
Bobby Portis, the reigning Southeastern Conference freshman of the week, finished with his first career double-double, scoring 10 points and pulling down 11 rebounds. Coty Clarke scored 8 points and had 10 rebounds.
Joshua Montgomery and Alante Fenner each scored 10 points for the Tigers (2-9).
The Razorbacks won their 20th consecutive game at home. The announced crowd of 5,654 was the seventh-lowest in the 20-year history of Bud Walton Arena.
Arkansas will break for the next week while the university holds final exams. The Razorbacks return to the court next Thursday with a home game against Tennessee-Martin.