Tom Murphy is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of Louisiana Tech University, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and voter for the Heisman Trophy and AP Top 25 football poll.
In the lane:
Arkansas energized by Qualls
Arkansas guard Michael Qualls pulls up to hit a three-point shot over South Carolina defender Michael Careera during the first half of Wednesday's game at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE - Michael Qualls scored 20 points and had eight rebounds, his highest totals in an SEC game, to help Arkansas hold off South Carolina on Wednesday.
Qualls made 7 of 14 shots, none bigger than a three pointer to break a 55-55 tie with 4:40 remaining to help the Razorbacks to a 71-64 victory.
“I just got back in the gym,” Qualls said. “At this point of the season, you’ve got to be doing more than your opponent.”
Qualls has scored at least 10 points in four consecutive games for the first time since Arkansas entered SEC play and is averaging 15 points per game in that stretch.
“I think his energy is contagious, and I think we are seeing … now he’s engaged defensively, trying to block shots,” Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said.
“He came away with eight rebounds tonight so he did more than shoot it.”
South Carolina Coach Frank Martin said Qualls was a fun opponent to watch.
“If this was the first time he did it, against us, I’d be upset at my guys, but he’s been playing like that here during conference play,” Martin said. “He obviously is a heck of a player.”
Arkansas’ Mardracus Wade made one of his biggest shots of the season, a three-pointer with Arkansas clinging to a 62-60 lead at the 1:12 mark with the shot clock running down against South Carolina’s zone.
“Give Wade credit,” South Carolina Coach Frank Martin said. “Brenton [Williams] was a step late and he stepped up and made a three.”
Wade said he has been shooting the ball well in practice and it carried over to the game.
“My team needed that,”he said. “I found a spot in the zone, knocked the shot down.”
Arkansas held South Carolina freshmen Duane Notice and Sindarius Thornwell in check.
Thornwell, who had been averaging 17.3 points per game in the SEC and was the reigning SEC freshman of the week, went 2 of 12 for 8 points and had 6 turnovers to go with 5 assists.
Notice, a 6-2 guard, was 1 of 9 from the field, scored 9 points and appeared frustrated after missing several shots in the lane amid contact.
“Sin didn’t play well today,” Martin said. “He was extremely lackadaisical in the first half. This is going to be a great learning experience for him and Duane. Arkansas plays with tremendous speed, and they got those guys going too fast offensively.”
Arkansas out rebounded the Gamecocks 42-35 to post its largest rebound differential in SEC games and its biggest margin on the boards since beating Tennessee-Martin 49-31 in that department.
Senior Coty Clarke led the way with 12 rebounds, his best total since grabbing 14 against Florida on Jan. 11.
Arkansas officials rushed to get permission from the SEC to live stream the broadcast of the game through RazorVision on its web site after the school found out the game would be joined in progress after the end of the 6 p.m. baseball game between LSU at Southeastern Louisiana on Cox Sports TV in Northwest Arkansas.
The game was carried on Comcast Sports Southeast (CSS), which is available in parts of the state, including the Little Rock market, but since CSS is not available in Northwest Arkansas it was shown on CST.
“Obviously we wanted to do everything … in our power to try to get as many fans to see the game live in its entirety,” UA spokesman Kevin Trainor said.
Sports, Pages 20 on 02/20/2014