FAYETTEVILLE (UofA) - Sophomore Mardracus Wade scored 20 points and the University of Arkansas men's basketball team wore down a feisty Texas A&M-Commerce team Friday evening, winning 97-80, in its first exhibition game of the season at Bud Walton Arena.
Friday's contest marked the first game-like atmosphere for head coach Mike Anderson in his return to the Arkansas bench.
"It was great to have the opportunity to play," Anderson said.
The Razorbacks overcame a slow start with relentless defense, pressing and trapping to force 25 Texas A&M-Commerce turnovers in the game. The pressure allowed Arkansas to score 27 points.
Arkansas saw four players reach double digits. Wade was a perfect 6-for-6 from the field including three three-pointers, for his 20 points to lead Arkansas. Freshman guard Rashad Madden scored 18 points on an efficient 5-of-8 from the field, including 3-for-4 from behind the arc and 5-for-6 from the free throw line. Madden also led Arkansas with six assists and three steals.
The Lions were tough to put away and trailed by as little as four points with less than six minutes left in the game, but the Razorbacks put together a 19-6 run over the final 5:29 to finish on a high note and put the game out of reach.
"They came in with nothing to lose and everything to gain," Anderson said of the pesky Lions. "It was good to see how we responded to some adversity and to see our guys under pressure."
Texas A&M-Commerce rode hot shooting to open the game, getting three three-pointers in the first four minutes to take an 11-4 lead. The Razorbacks could not find their stroke from the field early, but defensive pressure got them back into the game. Arkansas forced 10 turnovers in the first 10 minutes and went on a 13-5 run to take its first lead 17-16 nearly eight minutes into the half.
The Lions hung tough, tying the game twice more in the first half before falling victim to more of the Razorbacks' speed. Arkansas went on a 14-6 run over the last five minutes on baskets by five different players to head into the locker room with a 45-33 lead.
The Lions had a shooting edge early and started the game 5-for-10 from three, but were 5-for-23 after that to finish 10-for-33. Arkansas shot 50 percent on 8-of-16 shooting from three in the game.
Freshman Hunter Mickelson also had a strong game for Arkansas off the bench, scoring 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting. Rickey Scott also had 13, and added three assists, three rebounds and two steals.
Texas A&M-Commerce was paced by forward Desmond King, who notched a double-double with 24 points and 19 rebounds, both game highs.
Four freshmen donned the Arkansas home whites for the first time, and Anderson led Arkansas through its first game with a new style and a new head coach.