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.
Home run hits 22; Hogs 18-0 in 2013
Arkansas guard Anthlon Bell passes the ball during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against High Point on Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013, in Fayetteville, Ark. Arkansas defeated High Point 89-48. (AP Photo/Gareth Patterson)
FAYETTEVILLE - Arkansas completed a perfect 2013 in Walton Arena by beating High Point (N.C.) University 89-48 on Saturday night before an announced crowd of 9,110.
The Razorbacks went 18-0 at home during the calendar year of 2013, going 10-0 last season and 8-0 this season.
“I think it just shows how dominant we can be at home,” Arkansas freshman forwardBobby Portis said. “Now hopefully in conference play, we can take the same show on the road.”
It’s the third time in Walton Arena’s 20-year history the Razorbacks have gone unbeaten in a year’s span. They were 16-0 in 1994 and 15-0 in 1998.
Arkansas has won 22 in a row at Walton, its last loss coming to Syracuse, 91-82, on Nov. 30, 2012.
“We want to make this a difficult place to play,” Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said. “If you’re going to be in any kind of race, any kind of championship, you have got to be able to protect the home court and you’ve got to set the tone in the exhibition season, the nonconference and obviously in the conference season as well.”
High Point committed 25 turnovers, 17 of the turnovers coming on steals by Arkansas.
“The guys went out and performed and played Razorback basketball,” Anderson said. “They enjoy playing here. Our fans help get them going. We feel like we have one of the best facilities in the country and we’ve got some of the best fans. The fans here tonight were treated to a show.
Arkansas (10-2) came up with 5 steals in the first 3:30 -2 by senior forward Coty Clarke and 1 each by Portis and senior guards Rickey Scott and Fred Gulley -to take a 9-0 lead.
“I didn’t realize we were up 9-0,” Portis said. “I was just out there trying to go as hard as I could.”
The Razorbacks outscored the Panthers 36-10 in points off turnovers.
“Obviously, not our best performance,” High Point Coach Scott Cherry said. “They came out from the jump and just took control of the game.
“We turned it over way too much early on. We prepared the last two days for their press, but we just didn’t execute.
“Give them all the credit. They came out and did exactly what they needed to do to win.”
Cherry said that even when the Panthers had players open, getting them the ball was tough against the swarming Razorbacks, who had 37 deflections on passes according to Anderson.
Ten Razorbacks had at least one steal, led by four from senior guard Kikko Haydar.
“It’s hard to simulate the size and athleticism and the way that they play the game in practice, because we don’t have the same type of players,” Cherry said. “They’re good at what they do, and they keep the pressure constant.”
The game never was in doubt after the opening minutes and the Razorbacks didn’t suffer any letdowns.
“I thought it was a very complete performance by our basketball team from start to finish,” Anderson said. “We started that game off with seven stops. It really ignited our defense.
“Our defense was everywhere. From the first guys who started out through the guys on the bench, it was kind of contagious.
“It was good to see us have a complete performance for 40 minutes. No matter who I put in the game, I thought they kept the level of intensity at a great pace.”
Portis led the Razorbacks with 17 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals. He hit 7 of 9 shots.
“He’s good, he’s skilled,” Cherry said. “He can step out and make shots. He’s long,athletic, and fits their style really well.
“They’ve got a lot of good players. It’s not just him.”
Arkansas freshman center Moses Kingsley had 12 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocked shots. Clarke and sophomore forward Michael Qualls had 12 points each.
Arkansas sophomore guard Anthlon Bell, who had been in a shooting slump, scored 11 points and hit 3 of 7 shots - including 2 of 5 three-pointers - and 3 of 3 free throws.
Junior guard Devante Wallace led High Point (3-8) with 13 points.
“I thought one play that typified the night was Kikko,” Anderson said of Haydar’s second-half steal and assist on Qualls’ dunk. “He [Haydar] had a turnover and it was, ‘I’ll make up for that, Coach,’ and I’ll be darned if he comes back and - we had been talking about having some ball hawks from behind - and he taps it off the backboard and they come up with it and he touches it again.
“Most guys would shoot it, but he gave it to Qualls for a dunk. That tells you the mind-set of this team.”
RECORDS Arkansas 10-2, High Point 3-8 STARS Arkansas freshman forward Bobby Portis (16 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals), sophomore forward Michael Qualls (12 points) and senior forward Coty Clarke (11 points).
TURNING POINT Arkansas jumped out to a 9-0 lead in the first 4:35.
KEY STAT The Razorbacks outscored High Point 36-10 in points off turnovers.
UP NEXT Arkansas plays Texas San Antonio at 7 p.m. Saturday at Walton Arena in Fayetteville
DATE OPPONENT TIME/RESULT
Nov. 8 SIU-Edwardsville W, 99-65
Nov. 15 La.-Lafayette W, 76-63
Nov. 18 SMU W, 89-78
Nov. 25 California$ L, 85-77
Nov. 26 Minnesota$ W, 87-73
Nov. 27 Gonzaga$ L, 91-81
Dec. 3 SE Louisiana W, 111-65
Dec. 7 Clemson W, 74-68
Dec. 12 Savannah St. W, 72-43
Dec. 19 Tennessee-Martin W, 102-56
Dec. 21 South Alabama& W, 72-60
Dec. 28 High Point W, 89-48
Jan. 4 Texas-San Antonio 7 p.m.
Jan. 6 at Texas A&M * 8 p.m.
Jan. 11 Florida * noon
Jan. 14 Kentucky * 8 p.m.
Jan. 18 at Georgia * 12:30 p.m.
Jan. 22 at Tennessee * 7 p.m.
Jan. 25 Auburn * 7 p.m.
Jan. 28 Missouri * 6 p.m.
Feb. 1 at LSU * 4 p.m.
Feb. 5 Alabama * 7 p.m.
Feb. 8 at Vanderbilt * 3 p.m.
Feb. 13 at Missouri * 6 p.m.
Feb. 19 South Carolina * 8 p.m.
Feb. 22 at Mississippi State * 3 p.m.
Feb. 27 at Kentucky * 6 p.m.
March 1 Georgia * 3 p.m.
March 5 Ole Miss * 7 p.m.
March 8 at Alabama * 3 p.m.
March 12-16 SEC Tournament Atlanta $ - Maui Invitational & - Verizon Arena, North Little Rock * - SEC game
Sports, Pages 21 on 12/29/2013