Win Over Vols Pulls Hogs Even in SEC
After two consecutive road losses, the Arkansas Razorbacks returned to the ever-friendly confines of Bud Walton Arena to beat Tennessee with ease, 73-60.
The Hogs were led by sophomore BJ Young, who had 25 points on the night.
Tennessee and Arkansas look the same on paper: teams that are winless on the road but play a higher level of basketball on their home court. The Hogs proved they were the better team, scoring 46 bench points and playing their successful style of up tempo basketball.
Michael Qualls earned his first start of the season, and the freshman guard didn’t disappoint. After a good outing against Alabama, the 6 foot 5 inch Qualls was a mismatch for the Vols, playing bigger than his actual size by grabbing 11 rebounds and scoring seven points in 32 minutes of playing time.
“I thought the injection of Michael Qualls into the lineup really gave us a high energy level, his energy was contagious,” head coach Mike Anderson said.
With Qualls and Coty Clarke in the starting lineup, typical starters Hunter Mickelson and Young were able to provide a big impact off the bench.
Mickelson was 5-8 from the field with 10 points and five rebounds, and Young finished with 25 points, including 2-3 shooting from beyond the arc. Having only made two three pointers in SEC play prior to playing Tennessee, Young was confident in his game against the Vols.
“I was able to go back to my role from last year and just come in and do my thing and play with a chip on my shoulder, our whole team played with a chip on their shoulder,” Young said.
Tennessee was able to keep within 10 most of the second half, thanks to sophomore Jarnell Stokes’ play around the basket. Stokes, a former five star recruit who infamously chose Tennessee over Arkansas last winter, finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds against the Hogs in his first game at Bud Walton Arena.
However, the Vols’ leading scorer Jordan McRae had a tough outing, shooting 2-11 from the field and finishing with six points before fouling out.
“When (McRae) shot it, we were right there with him. Our guys were linked up defensively,” Anderson said.
Marshawn Powell finished with 12 points in limited minutes because of foul trouble, and the Razorbacks as a whole were able to dominate a bigger Tennessee team in the paint, outscoring the Vols 42-28 in the box.
Pushing the ball down the court was key late in the first half, as the Hogs were able to force turnovers and finish at the rim on the other end of the court. Anderson preached the more shot attempts the better in the “fastest 40” that the Hogs play, and the hogs shot nearly 50 percent from the field.
Arkansas is 10-0 when shooting above 45 percent from the field, and that high-percentage take-it-to-the-basket mindset will be key for the Hogs moving forward.
Next up, the Hogs host No. 4 Florida Tuesday, their third game in six days. Florida has been dominant so far in SEC Play, going a perfect 8-0 while beating conference foes by more than 25 points per game on average, while Arkansas will look to stay undefeated in conference play at Bud Walton Arena.
“They’re a real good team and we just want to go out and execute against them,” Qualls said.