In the Lane:

Qualls sits first half, ends strong

By: Tom Murphy
Published: Friday, December 13, 2013
Arkansas forward Michael Qualls (24) drives to the basket against Savannah State University Thursday Dec. 12, 2013 at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville. The Razorbacks won 72-43.
Photo by Anthony Reyes
Arkansas forward Michael Qualls (24) drives to the basket against Savannah State University Thursday Dec. 12, 2013 at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville. The Razorbacks won 72-43.

FAYETTEVILLE - Arkansas’ leading scorer Michael Qualls was benched for the first half of the Razorbacks’ 72-43 victory over Savannah State.

“I know the million dollar question is about Qualls,” Coach Mike Anderson said early in his post-game remarks. “It was one of those team rules. He came late to a practice, and so obviously he sat out a half. But we’re past that, and we’ll move forward.”

Qualls started the second half and finished with seven points, less than half his average of 15.8 points per game.

The 6-6 sophomore swingman made an impact in the opening moments of the second half, as the Razorbacks began pulling away from their close 27-25 halftime edge.

Qualls drove hard to the rim, got his own missed shot and drew a foul on the first possession of the half.

He also blocked a shot and powered in a dunk on an over-the-shoulder pass from Ky Madden in the first stint of his 16 second-half minutes.

“As soon as he came back in, he got two major blocks and that changed the energy right there,” guard Rickey Scott said.

“He’s a scorer, really,” freshman Bobby Portis said of not having Qualls in the opening half. “That kind of messed our groove up and messed up our intensity.”

Block party

Arkansas posted a seasonhigh 10 blocked shots, bettering the eight blocks the Hogs posted in their 99-65 victory over Southern Illinois-Edwardsville in the season opener.

Freshman Moses Kingsley had five of the blocked shots, while Bobby Portis and Alandise Harris had two apiece and Michael Qualls had one.

“I thought our defense was pushing them toward the basket, and we had guys in position,” Mike Anderson said. “But let’s be real, one guy got five of them.”

Fayette-chill

The estimated actual attendance on another cold winter night was 5,654, though with season tickets added in, the total attendance was listed at 11,449.

Arkansas’ total home attendance for six games is now 45,352, or an average of 7,559, with a high of 9,042 in the Hogs’ 76-63 victory over Louisiana-Lafayette on Nov. 15.

Stray shooting

The Razorbacks were shooting 44.4 percent (40 of 90) on three-pointers in home games coming into the contest, but their accuracy fell to 41.3 percent after a 5 of 19 performance.

Arkansas shot 1 of 10 from three-point range in the first half, then 4 of 9 in the second.

The Hogs’ overall threepoint shooting fell from 40.1 percent to 38.6 percent.

Hot hand

In the first half, Ky Madden made 6 of 7 shots, while the rest of his teammates combined to shoot 4 of 21 (19 percent).

No Wade

Senior guard Mardracus Wade was at the scorer’s table with 46 seconds left in the first half, but he didn’t get in, as teammate Jacorey Williams missed a free throw and the clock never stopped the rest of the half.

Coach Mike Anderson did not sub him in during the second half, making it two consecutive did not plays (DNP) for the guard.

Wade voiced his frustration on Twitter after the game, writing “Another Game WOW… Can’t Believe this DNP …. I’m good though God has a plan for me…” The tweet was deleted shortly thereafter.

Said Anderson, “He’s going to have to an opportunity. He just has to continue to practice and keep fighting.”

Hail Harris

Alandise Harris’ shot blocking is fast becoming a crowd favorite at Walton Arena as he turned in two of his best of the season against the Tigers.

Savannah State’s 6-7 Saadiq Muhammad was driving for a dunk late in the first half when Harris rose up and swatted the shot away to teammate Kikko Haydar, who fed Ky Madden for a fast-break layup and a 24-20 Arkansas lead.

A couple of minutes earlier, 6-5 Tigers’ forward Joshua Montgomery had his point-blank jumper blocked by Harris.

Tip-ins

Savannah State, which ranked last at No. 351 in the Ratings Percentage Index by RealTimeRPI.com prior to the game, was within five points of Arkansas throughout the first half and took a half-court heave at the buzzer that would have given the Tigers the lead had it gone in.

Arkansas defensive end Chris Smith was given his Crip Hall Award, for being the team’s most outstanding senior in the homecoming game, at halftime.

In the first half, Ky Madden made 6 of 7 shots, while the rest of his teammates combined to shoot 4 of 21 (19 percent).

Savannah State Coach Horace Broadnax, when informed it was Mike Anderson’s birthday on Thursday, responded with a chuckle, “I didn’t know it was his birthday. I would have tried to play a little harder, you know?”

Sports, Pages 21 on 12/13/2013

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