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 rolls; SEC play next
NWA Media/ANDY SHUPE -- Arkansas sophomore guard BJ Young, center, drives through the lane as Delaware State sophomore forward Tyshawn Bell, right, and junior forward Casey Walker, left, defend Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013, during the first half of play in Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE Arkansas outscored Delaware State by 30 points during a 12-minute stretch in the first half and coasted to an 86-51 victory over the Hornets on Saturday night at Walton Arena before an announced crowd of 9,183.
The Razorbacks (9-4) extended their winning streak to five games heading into Wednesday night’s SEC opener at Texas A&M.
After Delaware State jumped out to an 8-4 lead, the Razorbacks’ starters and reserves combined on a 34-4 run and held the Hornets scoreless for a 6:35 span in racing to a 38-12 lead with 3:10 left in the first half.
“It makes you feel like your defense is doing a lot of work, really pressuring the ball and not letting them run their sets,” Arkansas freshman forward Jacorey Williams said. “We kind of messed up everything for them on the offensive end.”
Delaware State (6-9) wanted to slow the tempo, but in the first half the Razorbacks outscored the Hornets 14-0 in points off turnovers with fast-break baskets. Arkansas finished with a 23-5 edge in points off turnovers.
“Their pressure did not allow us to get into any type of offensive rhythm,” Delaware State Coach Greg Jackson said. “They took us out of most of the things we wanted to get in, kind of speeded it up.
“We turned the ball over. Then we started running up and taking quick shots, and you play on this level, if you don’t limit possessions, especially with a team like that, it’s hard to get into any type of rhythm.”
Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson credited the Razorbacks’ bench players with helping bring energy and stretch the lead from 13-8 when some of the starters began to come out for a rest.
“It was a game where I thought we attacked them defensively and attacked them offensively as well,” Anderson said. “We made shots, and that makes a big difference.”
The Razorbacks shot a season-high 58.2 percent from the field (32 of 55). Sophomore guard BJ Young led Arkansas with 19 points and hit 8 of 9 shots. His only miss came on a driving attempt.
Arkansas freshman guard Anthlon Bell scored 12 points off the bench. Junior forward Marshawn Powell had eight points and freshman forward Michael Qualls had seven. Sophomore forward Hunter Mickelson and junior guards Mardracus Wade and Rickey Scott had six points each.
Junior forward Casey Waker led Delaware State (6-9) with 13 points. Bell hit 4 of 6 three-pointers, including three in a row late in the first half.
Anderson said it’s important for Bell to be a perimeter scoring threat as the Razorbacks go into SEC play.
“I think it is critical for us to have a guy that can come off the bench and knock shots down,” Anderson said. “Tonight he was in rhythm, and our guys did a good job of getting the ball to him. He also played a significant amount of minutes , and that makes a difference as well. Our guys had confidence in him. That is going to be needed, especially as we go through this season.
“People are going to target in on BJ, they are going to target in on Marshawn as well as Mardracus. so we have got to have somebody that can really extend the defense.”
The Razorbacks had 17 assists and moved the ball well when they weren’t finishing fast breaks.
“We shared the ball, and we took high percentage shots,” Bell said. “We took the first good look instead of the second bad look.”
Anderson said he was impressed the Razorbacks limited their turnovers to 10.
“That’s the thing that really continues to amaze me, but it’s something we’ve worked on,” he said. “To play so many guys, and have 10 turnovers, and play at that speed and value the basketball, that’s so critical.”
Arkansas was called for 13 fouls and Delaware State attempted 17 free throws after the Razorbacks were called for 26 fouls and Northwestern (La.) State attempted 42 free throws a week ago.
Playing good defense without fouling was a point of emphasis for the Razorbacks in practice.
“We cleaned it up,” Anderson said. “That’s a lesson our guys learned.”
Bell said the Razorbacks will carry plenty of confidence into the SEC schedule.
“A big win like this going into conference is big,” Bell said. “Everybody’s playing well, everybody’s confidence is up. “
Game sketch RECORDS Arkansas 9-4, Delaware State 6-9 STARS Arkansas sophomore guard BJ Young (19 points on 8-of-9 shooting) and freshman guard Anthlon Bell (12 points).
TURNING POINT Arkansas had a 34-4 run in the first half to take a 38-12 lead.
KEY STAT The Razorbacks shot a season-high 58 percent from the field (32 of 55).
UP NEXT Arkansas plays at Texas A&M on Wednesday night in the SEC opener.
Sports, Pages 19 on 01/06/2013