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Arkansas routs Ole Miss
Arkansas forward Coty Clarke dunks the ball on a fast break during Wednesday night's game against Ole Miss at Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE If Arkansas wanted to put its best foot forward for the NCAA tournament selection committee, consider that mission accomplished.
The Razorbacks, playing lately like the Razorbacks of old during the glory days under former coach Nolan Richardson, made perhaps their best case yet in a 110-80 throttling of Ole Miss.
Led by Anthlon Bell's career-high 23 points, Arkansas (21-9, 10-7 Southeastern Conference) used a barrage of 3-pointers — 17 of them to be exact — to extend its winning streak to six games.
It's the longest streak in regular-season conference play since the 1997-98 season under Richardson, and it comes at a time when the Razorbacks are desperate to earn their first postseason berth since 2008.
They've won eight of nine games overall since opening SEC play 2-6, but none were as convincing as Wednesday's rout over the Rebels (17-13, 8-9).
"It would be nice if I said senior night was scripted like that, but it wasn't scripted like that," Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said. "... We're playing well, and as a coach, that's what you want to be trending at the right time, the right way."
Bell set the tone early, scoring 14 points in less than 3 minutes as Arkansas turned a one-point first-half deficit into a 14-point lead in a matter of minutes.
The sophomore, whose previous career best of 19 points came less than two weeks ago at Mississippi State, hit four of his first five 3-pointers and finished 7-of-10 shooting from behind the arc — helping the Razorbacks match the school's mark for most made in an SEC game.
His 23 points came in just 12 minutes of action.
"It felt good," Bell said. "Once I just hit the floater and then I came down and hit on transition, it just felt good the rest of the night. It's like the rim was just wide open."
Mardracus Wade, making just his third start of the season on senior night, added five 3-pointers and finished with a season-high 18 points.
Arkansas' bench outscored a shell-shocked Ole Miss 71-26 on a night when the Rebels simply had no answers — falling behind by as many as 46 points in the second half before Anderson rested his regulars.
Marshall Henderson had 15 points to lead the Rebels, who have lost six of seven games, while Jarvis Summers added 11.
"Freight train, buzz saw, whatever space you've got to fill," Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said while describing the loss.
Arkansas' win snapped a six-game losing streak to Ole Miss, which had also won four straight in Bud Walton Arena before Wednesday.
The Razorbacks trailed 17-16 early in the game after a jump shot by Summers, but Bell followed by spearheading a remarkable 3-point barrage that left Arkansas up 56-34 at halftime.
The sophomore hit 4 of 5 3-pointers during a 23-8 run that followed Summers' jumper, helping Arkansas go up 39-25 after a pair of free throws by Bobby Portis.
"Tonight, the way it was flowing for him, I think he (could have) threw it backward and it would have went in," Anderson said. "It was just one of those nights for him."
The fun for the crowd of 16,508 only continued in the second half, with the Razorbacks extending their lead to 63-35 after an inside basket by Michael Qualls.
Bell continued his hot play off the bench in the second half, and his sixth 3-pointer of the game gave Arkansas a 90-47 lead. They later led 97-51 after a pair of free throws by Alandise Harris with 10:09 remaining.
"They're playing as well as anybody in our league to this point," Kennedy said. "And they certainly showed it tonight.
"That's an NCAA tournament team, and hopefully they'll continue to show that and get that opportunity."
Arkansas reached the 100-point mark after a free throw by Rickey Scott with 8:18 remaining, after which Anderson rested many of his regulars down the stretch.
The Razorbacks finished 17 of 30 overall from behind the arc. The team record for most 3s made in a game is 21, set against Troy State in 1996.
Five players scored in double figures for Arkansas, which hasn't reached the NCAA tournament since 2008. Ky Madden finished with 14 points, while Coty Clarke and Harris added 13 each.
Ole Miss committed 18 turnovers, leading to 27 points for the Razorbacks. Madden, Clarke and Portis had three steals each for Arkansas.
"Ole Miss is a lot better than what took place tonight, but I thought we had something to do with that," Anderson said. "I thought our defense was just stifling, just all over the place."