Matt Jones has been the online sports editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette since 2010. He is also a feature writer for Hawgs Illustrated magazine and is currently pursuing a Master's degree in documentary film.
UA freshman sets record in win over Alabama
Arkansas forward Bobby Portis (10) and guard Coty Clarke (4) celebrate after an alley-oop dunk during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Alabama, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, in Fayetteville, Ark. (AP Photo/Gareth Patterson)
FAYETTEVILLE On college football's national signing day, Arkansas' biggest basketball recruit in years stole the headlines.
Bobby Portis scored a career-high 35 points, grabbed 9 rebounds and blocked 6 shots as the Razorbacks overcame a sluggish start to beat Alabama 65-58 at Bud Walton Arena. Portis became the fifth freshman in school history to score at least 30 points in a game and broke Scotty Thurman's 21-year-old record for points in a game by a freshman.
Portis, a McDonalds All-American last year, scored 17 straight points during one stretch spanning both halves. The Little Rock native kept Arkansas (14-8, 3-6 SEC) in the game while his teammates struggled to shoot the ball in the first half.
Bobby Portis was the fifth Arkansas freshman to score at least 30 points in a game. Here is a look at the best games by a Razorbacks freshman.
Bobby Portis, 35 points vs. Alabama, 2014
Scotty Thurman, 34 points vs. Missouri, 1992
Scotty Thurman, 34 points vs. Ole Miss, 1993
George Kok, 32 points vs. Texas A&M, 1945
BJ Young, 31 points vs. Florida, 2012
Joe Johnson, 30 points vs. Mississippi State, 2000
Portis made 8 of 10 field goal attempts before halftime, but the rest of the Razorbacks were just a combined 1-for-23. The team's only other first half basket was a fast-break slam dunk by Rickey Scott.
Portis finished the game making 14 of 17 field goal attempts. He also made all six of his free throw attempts, including two with 17 seconds remaining to break Thurman's record.
Arkansas trailed Alabama 26-24 at halftime, but Portis sparked the team early in the second half. He scored the Razorbacks' first 11 points after halftime, including the team's only made 3-point basket.
Portis played 30 minutes in the win. Arkansas struggled mightily with him on the bench, making only 1 of 13 shots and turning the ball over three times in Portis' 9 minutes, 16 seconds off the floor.
The game, which had 11 ties and 12 lead changes, flip-flopped throughout the second half. Arkansas took the lead for good on an Alandise Harris one-handed dunk with 7:11 remaining.
Harris, who returned from a one-game suspension, scored 8 straight points during the second half stretch as the Hogs took the lead.
Alabama (9-13, 3-6) pulled within 61-58 on a 3-pointer by Trevor Releford with 41.4 seconds remaining, but didn't score again. The Crimson Tide finished the game making 21 of 59 field goal attempts.
Arkansas made 22 of 57 field goal attempts, but heated up after halftime, connecting on 13 of 24 second half shots. The Razorbacks also made 20 of 25 free throw attempts.
Rodney Cooper led the Crimson Tide with 22 points and 10 rebounds, and Releford added 12 points.
Arkansas will travel to Vanderbilt on Saturday.