Matt Jones is the online sports editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and Northwest Arkansas Newspapers. He and his wife live in Fayetteville.
Portis joins elite company
Arkansas forward Bobby Portis, left, drives to the basket against Alabama center Carl Engstrom (4) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, in Fayetteville, Ark. (AP Photo/Gareth Patterson)
FAYETTEVILLE Bobby Portis has been compared to Corliss Williamson for some time.
Both were among the nation's top recruits in their respective classes and both chose to stay in-state to play for Arkansas. Now both share another distinction.
Portis' 35 points in Wednesday's win over Alabama were the most for a Razorbacks post player in a Southeastern Conference game since Williamson scored 30 points against Georgia in the 1994 SEC Tournament. Portis, who added 9 rebounds and 6 blocked shots, set the school record for points in a game by a freshman, breaking Scotty Thurman's mark that had stood since a pair of 34-point performances in the 1992-93 season.
Thirty-point games have become more frequent in recent years with at least one Arkansas player recording such an outing in each of the last seven seasons. But those performances have largely belonged to guards or wing players.
The last true low-post to score 30 or more in a game was Michael Washington, who did it twice during the nonconference season in 2008-09. Marshawn Powell scored 33 points against Oklahoma last season, but did so playing much of the game around the perimeter.
Most of Portis' points came around the basket Wednesday, though he did hit a 3-pointer early in the second half. That shot was Arkansas' only make from beyond the arc during the game, extending the school's streak to 826 games with a made 3-pointer.
Portis finished the game shooting 14 of 17 from the field and making all six of his free throw attempts. He nearly added another record as his 14 made baskets were one off the school record set during Rotnei Clarke's 51-point game in the 2009-10 season opener.
Portis played 30 minutes in the game and most of Arkansas' offense came during that time. The Razorbacks made only 1 of 13 field goal attempts and turned the ball over three times with him on the bench.
With his big game and his teammates' offensive struggles against Alabama, Portis has taken over the team lead this season with a 13.3 points per game average. Portis had scored 15, 16 and 18 points in the three games prior to Wednesday against LSU, Missouri and Auburn.
Portis also leads Arkansas with 6.6 rebounds per game and is second on the team with 33 blocks and 22 steals.