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 embraces its ‘beast’
Arkansas forward Bobby Portis (10) dribbles the ball after stealing it during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against UTSA on Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014, in Fayetteville, Ark. Portis led Arkansas in scoring with 19 points as Arkansas defeated UTSA 104-71. (AP Photo/Gareth Patterson)
FAYETTEVILLE - Bobby Portis’ career-high 19 points included a perfect night from the field in Arkansas’ 104-71 victory over Texas-San Antonio on Saturday.
Portis hit all eight of his shots, including a pair of dunks, went 3 of 4 from the freethrow line and posted his second doubledouble with 10 rebounds.
The 6-10 freshman said he wasn’t aware he had made all his field goals.
“I just wanted to play as hard as I could,” Portis said.
“Then on the [missed] free throw, I short-armed it.
“In this game and in the previous games I just had to come out there and be a beast for my ball club.”
Portis has scored at least 10 points in nine consecutive games since his five-point, one-rebound effort in a loss to California at the Maui Invitational.
Texas-San Antonio Coach Brooks Thompson read Portis’ stat line aloud after the game.
“He’s tall and long and I think … guys like him, not only Portis, affected us in a big way,” Thompson said.
“Just a different level of athlete.”
Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said Portis is a player he has to run out of the gym because of his commitment to the game.
“He wants to be a great player,” Anderson said.
“He doesn’t just want to be good.”3 x 100
Arkansas’ 104-point effort marked its third 100-point outing of the season.
The Razorbacks defeated Southeastern Louisiana 111-65 and Tennessee-Martin 102-56 earlier this season.
The three 100-point games equaled the same number the Razorbacks had in nine years under Stan Heath and John Pelphrey from 2002 through the 2010-11 season.
Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson said his team’s focus was impressive, even with the game out of hand after an early 22-6 run gave the Razorbacks a 44-21 lead.
“I thought effort was there, and obviously when you get a lead of that magnitude, sometimes the interest kind of goes the other way,” he said. “So that was my biggest charge at halftime, was making sure our guys stayed engaged and understanding that the game is not over with and we want to continue to play good basketball.” Swat-n-slam
Bobby Portis ignited the crowd twice within a minute late in the first half with plays on both ends of the court.
Portis blocked a shot by guard Devon Agusi, and moments later he and Ky Madden stripped the ball away on the press and Madden lobbed the ball to Portis for a dunk that drew a roar from the crowd.
Texas-San Antonio’s Hyjii Thomas cashed in a rare five-point play with 9:11 remaining in the second half.
Thomas made a short bank shot and drew a blocking foul on Kikko Haydar. Arkansas Coach Mike Anderson was assessed a technical foul arguing the call, and Thomas made both freethrows for the technical before hitting his free throw for the three-point play.
The technical was Anderson’s first of the season.
“You wouldn’t want to know what I said,” Anderson said. “I guess I deserved it.
“There’s no question about it, I gave them some points. … I told my guys, hey, I’ll take the blame for them getting over 70. I just thought it was [a charge]. I thought it was one of those where he just ran over him.”
Haydar said he also thought he had drawn the charge.
“The ref didn’t see it that way, and that’s how basketball is,” he said. “But it’s definitely nice to have your coach have your back.”Hot half
Arkansas made 8 of 11 shots to open the game while building a 19-7 lead, but the Hogs’ field-goal percentage could have been even better.
During the opening blitz in the first four and a half minutes, guards Fred Gulley and Anthlon Bell both missed point-blank layup attempts that could have made the Hogs 10 of 11.
Eleven players scored for the Razorbacks as they built a 62-35 lead going into halftime. It was their highest-scoring half of the season, bettering their 59-point second half in a 111-65 victory over Southeastern Louisiana.
Arkansas used the same starting lineup of guards Ky Madden, Rickey Scott and Fred Gulley and big men Coty Clarke and Bobby Portis for the second consecutive game.
Arkansas forward Coty Clarke posted a career-best five steals, all in the first half, beating the four he had in last year’s loss to Syracuse. Arkansas finished with 14 steals.
Sports, Pages 28 on 01/05/2014