Tom Murphy is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of Louisiana Tech University, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and voter for the Heisman Trophy and AP Top 25 football poll.
In the lane:
Big guys turn in big night
Arkansas' Moses Kingsley (33) reaches for a loose ball against Tennessee-Martin's Javier Martinez (40) and Pierre Mopo (32) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013, in Fayetteville, Ark. (AP Photo/Gareth Patterson)
FAYETTEVILLE - Arkansas big men Coty Clarke, Bobby Portis and Moses Kingsley turned in hot-shooting, hard-dunking, big-rebounding games Thursday night in the Razorbacks’ 102-56 victory over Tennessee-Martin.
The three combined for 18-of-25 shooting (72 percent), 42 points and 30 rebounds as Arkansas thumped the Sky Hawks 49-31 on the boards.
“That’s what I was brought here to do, and they were brought here to help get on the boards,” said Clarke, who made 7 of 9 shots and added 3 steals to his 15 points and 9 rebounds.
“Me, Coty and Moses got in the gym a lot this week because of finals … so, we just got in the gym and we worked on our jump shots more,” said Portis, who also had 15 points and nine rebounds and put Arkansas over the 100-point mark with a layup in transition.
Kingsley finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds, the first time he has had at least 10 of each in the same game.
“It’s a very good night to do it,” Kingsley said. “It’s Christmas season.”
All three of the big men were 4 of 5 in the first half for combined 80 percent shooting.
Arkansas made 42 of 69 shots for 60.9 percent shooting, its second-best performance of the year behind a 62.3 percent showing in its 111-65 victory over Southeastern Louisiana.
The Razorbacks have made half their shots or better in five of 10 games.
“Our defense created a lot of easy opportunities for us,” Coach Mike Anderson said.
Seven for 3
Seven different Arkansas players made three-pointers, a season high for the team.
Fred Gulley and Kikko Haydar each went 2 of 3 from three-point range, while Michael Qualls was 2 of 4. Anthlon Bell, Rickey Scott, Ky Madden and Bobby Portis all hit one each as the Razorbacks combined for 10-of-21 shooting from behind the three-point line.
“It was one of those deals where confidence was really in effect tonight, and it was contagious,” Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said.
“When we start shooting the basketball, that’s another whammy on people. You’re not going to shoot it that well every night.”
Six Razorbacks had made three-pointers in earlier victories over SMU and Southeastern Louisiana.
Arkansas made 8 of 13 from the free-throw line, a second consecutive subpar performance in that area. The Razorbacks were leading the SEC in freethrow shooting percentage prior to their 13-of-26showing against Savannah State, but they fell to fourth after that.
Their 61.5 percent shooting Thursday night dropped the Razorbacks to 194 of 273 (71.1 percent) for the year.
Bobby Portis notched one of Arkansas’ most impressive dunks of the season late in the first half.
As Ky Madden’s three-pointer trickled off the front of the rim, Portis swooped in from the left and hammered home the shot for a crowd-pleasing dunk that put the Hogs ahead 39-19.
Michael Qualls added a high two-handed dunk early in the second half, then Coty Clarke took a lob pass from Madden and dunked it for another highlight as the Hogs stretched their second half lead.
Ky Madden extended his streak of double-figure scoring games to four with a three-pointer at the 5:24 mark of the second half and finished with 11 points.
Mardracus Wade checked in at the 7:19 mark of the first half as the senior got his first playing time in three games. Wade finished with 2 steals, 1 rebound, 1 assist and 4 fouls and didn’t take a shot in his 11-minute stint.
Little Rock Hall product Myles Taylor scored eight points on 4-of-9 shooting and had two rebounds for Tennessee-Martin.
Sports, Pages 27 on 12/20/2013