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.
Vandy comes in handy
Arkansas rebounds from dud
NWA MEDIA/SAMANTHA BAKER -- Arkansas' Hunter Mickelson, left, knocks the ball away from James Siakam of Vanderbilt Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013, during the second half at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville.
Arkansas led 21-11 at halftime
Marshawn Powell scored a game-high 17 points
The Commodores set a record for fewest points in Bud Walton Arena and tied a school record for fewest points in the shot clock era
FAYETTEVILLE Marshawn Powell and BJ Young almost outscored Vanderbilt by themselves.
Arkansas beat the Commodores 56-33 on Saturday before an announced crowd of 11,526 at Walton Arena as Powell and Young combined for 31 points.
It was the fewest points for an Arkansas SEC opponent in 378 games, including conference tournament games, since the Razorbacks joined the SEC for the 1991-1992 season. The previous low came in Arkansas’ 75-42 victory over Auburn Feb. 11, 1997.
“I’m not into the record business, but at the same time I just thought our defense was pretty intense,” Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said. “Wherever their shooters were, we were in position, and we didn’t give up a whole lot of dribble penetration.
“Not only that, but when it went inside we were able to double up and were quick to the ball. I thought our quickness and athletic ability was the biggest difference in the game.”
Vanderbilt shot 25 percent from the field (10 of 40) and had 26 turnovers.
“We got our tails whipped,” Vanderbilt Coach Kevin Stallings said. “I was real disappointed in our play in just about every way, but you’ve got to give them credit. They got us rattled and it just kind of stayed that way the whole day.
“A lot of credit to them and lot of bad for us.”
The first half was especially ugly. Arkansas led 21-11 and shot 10 of 26 from the field with 8 turnovers while Vanderbilt shot 3 of 15 with 14 turnovers.
“The ugliness probably was more attributable to us,” Stallings said. “We probably uglied them down.”
The Razorbacks (10-5, 1-1) came back with a stronger effort after losing at Texas A&M 69-51 on Wednesday night in the SEC opener.
“It just puts in order what we need to do and how we need to play on a consistent basis.” said Powell, a junior forward who led the Razorbacks Saturday with 17 points, 6 rebounds and a career-high 6 steals. “If we play the same way we played tonight, we’ll be in good shape.”
Powell scored 12 points in the first half and finished 8 of 9 from the field. Young took over in the second half, when he scored 12 of his 14 points after being limited to 8 minutes in the first half because of drawing two fouls.
Young, a sophomore guard, scored Arkansas’ first 12 points in the second half to push the Razorbacks’ lead to 33-17 with 15:25 left.
“BJ is capable of doing that,” Anderson said. “I thought he had a lot of offense built up in him since he sat out and only played eight minutes in the first half.”
Stallings said Young was able to get in rhythm after his foul-plagued first half.
“You knew he was going to try and be aggressive in the second half and he just got to our rim too many times,” Stallings said. “When he gets to the rim, he’s an awfully good player.”
Arkansas’ largest lead 45-18 with 9:07 left when freshman forward Jacorey Williams hit two free throws.
The Commodores (6-8, 0-2), led by freshman forward Sheldon Jeter’s eight points, looked to be in danger of scoring their fewest points ever in a game, but they escaped that when Shelby Moats hit a three-point basket with 3:49 left to cut the Razorbacks’ lead to 52-32.
Vanderbilt’s lowest-scoring game remains a 33-31 loss to Mississippi State on Jan. 30, 1982, before the 35-second shot clock began being used in college basketball.
“It’s a typical Mike team, I think, just fast and they anticipate well,” Stallings said. “I’m sure he caught their attention after the way they played at Texas A&M.
“So I’m sure he had them on full attentive duty, and they played hard.”
Texas A&M won 83-71 at Kentucky on Saturday to go2-0 in the SEC, but the Razorbacks said that didn’t make their loss to the Aggies any less disappointing.
“It makes us feel like we missed out on an opportunity,” Arkansas junior guard Kikko Haydar said. “I’m sure the fan base wasn’t happy after the A&M game, and we weren’t happy.
“We don’t like putting on a performance like that. I think it’s big to come out and play well [Saturday] and carry that into the next game and future games.”
Anderson said he wasn’t surprised Texas A&M won at Kentucky, noting the Aggies are playing well and have some seniors in their lineup.
“The race is just beginning,” Anderson said. “You’ll see some other games where you will go ‘How did that happen?’ It’s the SEC.”
Kentucky won 60-58 at Vanderbilt on Thursday night, so the Commodores and Wildcats each had a day less to prepare for their Saturday games than their opponents.
“We certainly had a very hard-fought game Thursday night,” Stallings said. “I don’t want to say that we had a hard time bouncing back, because that’s not really what I believe.
“I could use that as an excuse, but that’s not what I believe. I think we just got outplayed.”
Anderson said beating Vanderbilt was a good bounce-back game for the Razorbacks.
“I thought our guys played with a lot of energy and a lot of focus,” he said. “I thought defensively we were really engaged.
“To me, that’s Arkansas basketball - excitement and not letting Vanderbilt get very comfortable.”
Sports, Pages 21 on 01/13/2013