The Arkansas Razorbacks (14-2, 3-1), who were a 14-point favorite according to ESPN, cruised to a 75-55 victory over Vanderbilt (8-8, 0-3) on Wednesday behind a 30-point outing from Jimmy Whitt Jr.
Junior guard Mason Jones led the Hogs in scoring entering the game, averaging 19.4 points per game, while Whitt was averaging just 13.8 points per game.
The Commodores entered the game riding a three-game losing streak and an 0-2 start in conference play. The Hogs were playing in their first home game after a two-game road trip that resulted in a loss at LSU and a tight victory over Ole Miss in Oxford.
Vanderbilt began the night short-handed as they were without the SEC leading scorer, sophomore Aaron Nesmith, who was averaging 23 points per game. Arkansas sophomore Isaiah Joe was coming off of a career high 34-point outing at Ole Miss that included seven three-pointers.
Arkansas showed no signs of struggling to score inside as six of its first eight points came from inside the paint. After watching his team turn the ball over for the third time in the first four minutes, Vanderbilt head coach Jerry Stackhouse called for a timeout.
After not seeing significant playing time during the two-game road trip, sophomore forward Reggie Chaney checked in at the 15:37 mark in the first half. He made his presence known immediately, making a layup and slamming down a dunk on his first two offensive possessions.
“It felt really good just to help my team out,” Chaney said. “The last couple of games I’ve been struggling, but to come out and be ready, it felt real good.”
Chaney and Whitt combined for 16 of the Razorbacks first 22 points in the game.
At the half, Arkansas led Vanderbilt 34-28. The Razorbacks’ two leading scorers on the season, Joe and Jones, combined for zero points in the first half.
Whitt carried the Hogs throughout the first half with 17 points and an incredible come-from-behind block in the last two minutes of the half. The Hogs shot 41.2% from the field, but it was a 20-17 rebounding advantage for Arkansas that was more impressive.
“We know a lot of teams are going to try to focus in on our two top guys” Whitt said. “So I think I was able to take advantage tonight.”
Maxwell Evans carried the rock for Vanderbilt throughout the first half. He shot 6-11 from the field and totaled 16 points in the half. The Commodores shot 40% from the field in the first 20 minutes of the game.
Whitt continued his impressive game by knocking down the first second-half basket for the Hogs. Joe finally got on the board by nailing a three-pointer at the 16:47 mark. Thirty seconds later, he drained his second three to give Arkansas a double-digit lead and send the Bud Walton Arena crowd into a frenzy.
A monstrous slam dunk by Reggie Chaney with less than a minute remaining was the icing on the cake for a 75-55 Razorback victory.
Whitt led the Hogs with 30 points, and Joe continued his trend of scoring big in the second half by draining four three-pointers in the second half to score 12 points on the night. Chaney ended with 14 points and 3 rebounds for Arkansas.
“I thought Reggie did a great job,” Razorback head coach Eric Musselman said. “I’m really proud of how he finished around the rim, and I thought he played with great intensity on the backboards as well.”
The Razorbacks outrebounded Vanderbilt 38-30 – a rare feat for a Hog team that has been outrebounded in nearly every game this season. The Commodores committed 16 turnovers compared to just seven by Arkansas.
The difference on the scoreboard was 31 shots made by Arkansas compared to just 19 by Vanderbilt. Both teams shot 25% from three, but the Razorbacks shot 48.4% from the field while the Commodores managed to shoot just 39.6%.
Arkansas will host the No. 10 Kentucky Wildcats at 3 p.m. Saturday in Bud Walton Arena. The game will be aired on ESPN.