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.
Thurman glad to see mark fall
Scotty Thurman, director of student-athlete development for the Arkansas basketball team, watches as the Razorbacks warm up before playing Alabama Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, in Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE - Scotty Thurman had a front row seat to watch Bobby Portis break his Arkansas freshman scoring record.
Thurman, in his fourth year as the Razorbacks’ director of student-athlete development, was in his usual spot on the team bench when Portis scored 35 points to lead Arkansas to a 63-58 victory over Alabama on Wednesday night in Walton Arena.
It’s been 21 years since Thurman scored 34 points twice as an Arkansas freshman - in victories at Missouri and against Ole Miss - during the 1992-1993 season to break George Kok’s record of 32 points against Texas A&M in the 1944-45 season.
“Records are made to be broken,” Thurman said Thursday. “Obviously, we needed the points. For someone who is as classy as Bobby and the type of student-athlete that he is and the type of kid that he is, it couldn’t have happened to a better kid. So I’m proud he was able to do it, and even more excited about the fact it happened in a win.”
Portis, a 6-10 freshman from Little Rock Hall, said after the game he planned to kid Thurman about breaking his record.
“I’ll mess with him every day about it,” Portis said smiling. “He’ll be pretty mad about it, too. I know he will.”
Thurman said he had some fun when Portis stopped by his office before Thursday’s practice.
“I acted like I was upset about it, and he walked in kind of sheepishly,” Thurman said. “But then we just started laughing about it.”
Thurman said it was “definitely cool” to be on the Arkansas bench for Portis’ record-breaking game.
“I’ve known him since he was in the sixth grade,” Thurman said. “So to see how far he’s come since then to now, I was more excited about that than anything. I mean, the record was just kind of gravy.”
Portis, a McDonald’s All-American who played on four state championships teams at Hall, repeatedly downplayed setting the record after the game, saying that he cares about winning, not records and points.
“I think he just brings an attitude that the program has probably lacked for some time,” Thurman said. “That it’s about us, it’s not about one guy.
“I think he embodies what team is all about, because even after he had a great night like that, he never really talked about himself. He was just talking about the team and how we were able to get the win. I think that’s a breath of fresh air for the staff as well as myself to have an opportunity to work with a kid who’s very, very talented but also who is humble.”
Portis made 14 of 17 shots and 6 of 6 free throws.
“We need that kind of production,” Thurman said. “Not that we’re expecting 35 points from him every night, but obviously if he’s got it going that way, our team is going to be very successful.
“He’s a tough cover for a lot of big guys. He’s very skillful, can run the floor, so there’s going to be some nights he’s going to have some match ups that are going to be hard to handle.”
Portis scored 17 consecutive points over a 6:29 span from the end of the first half and the start of the second half. With 16:29 left, he had 29 of the Razorbacks’ 35 points and was 12 of 15 from the field compared to his teammates being 1 of 25.
“ Bobby had it going, so we kept getting it to him,” Arkansas forward Jacorey Williams said “You’ve got to be team players and keep getting it to the hot man.
“I don’t think we realized how cold we all were, though. All we knew is that we needed to get the ball to BP.”
Thurman said Portis’ record-setting performance helped bring back memories of his 34-point games as a freshman.
“I just remember that it was a very hostile environment at Mizzou when we won, they had the Antlers and that whole deal,” Thurman said, referring to a Missouri student group. “But the Ole Miss game I remember more so because my mother was there.
“It was a good game for her to see. She was real excited about the fact that her baby had scored 34 points.”
Bobby and Scotty
Bobby Portis set Arkansas’ freshman scoring record with 35 points against Alabama, breaking the mark of 34 set by Scotty Thurman, who hit the mark twice during the 1992-1993 season. Here is a comparison of their games:
BOBBY PORTIS VS. ALABAMA
FG-FGA 3PT-ATT FT-FTA PTS
14-17 1-2 6-6 35
SCOTTY THURMAN VS. MISSOURI
FG-FGA 3PT-ATT FT-FTA PTS
11-22 7-11 5-6 34
SCOTTY THURMAN VS. OLE MISS
FG-FGA 3PT-ATT FT-FTA PTS
12-25 5-13 5-5 34
Bobby Portis became the fifth Arkansas freshman to score 30 or more points in a game in Wednesday night’s 65-58 victory over Alabama. Scotty Thurman did it twice. Here is the list:
PLAYER SEASON PTS OPPONENT
Bobby Portis 2013-2014 35 Alabama
Scotty Thurman 1992-1993 34 Missouri
Scotty Thurman 1992-1993 34 Ole Miss
George Kok 1944-1945 32 Texas A&M
BJ Young 2011-2012 31 Florida
Joe Johnson 1999-2000 30 Mississippi State
ARKANSAS AT VANDERBILT WHEN 3 p.m. Central Saturday WHERE Memorial Gymnasium, Nashville, Tenn.
RADIO Razorback Sports Network TV SEC telecast (KATV/KHOG-KHBS/ KAIT)
Sports, Pages 17 on 02/07/2014