August 15, 2012 at 2:37 AM CDT - Updated June 28 at 3:48 AM
FLORENCE, Italy (ArkansasRazorbacks.com) – Mardracus Wade poured in 19 points and Coty Clarke posted the University of Arkansas' first double-double of the Italy tour on Tuesday night as the Razorbacks defeated Atletas of Lithuania, 84-67, in a small gym outside of Florence, Italy.
Atletas kept the game close early, but once again Arkansas' pressure defense caused 24 turnovers, the Razorbacks were able to use a big second quarter on offense and defense in the third to pull away. The Arkansas win moved the Razorbacks to 3-0 on the tour while Atletas falls to 2-4 with two of the losses coming against Arkansas.
"Three games in three days, seven hour time difference, so eventually you know that these guys are going to hit the wall," Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson said. "The young guys, they are excited about being here and playing and I think that you saw some of the effects of that. But we also played against a smart basketball team. We were down in the first quarter but fought to get the lead at the half. I thought that we really kicked it into gear in the second half and got some quality depth and guys came in and gave us some great minutes."
Anderson's "Fastest 40 Minutes in Basketball" was in full swing by the end of the first quarter and began to take hold in the second. Being unpredictable on defense, Arkansas would strike at opportune moments which led to the high Atletas turnover number. The Razorbacks were also more active around the perimeter as they held Atletas to half the number of three-point baskets that it sank just 24 hours ago.
Atletas would hold a six-point lead at the end of the first quarter, but that advantage quickly evaporated as the Razorbacks outscored the Lithuanians, 28-18, in the second 10 minute period. The Razorbacks' continued to tire their opponents throughout the game as Atletas scored just 16 and 12 points in the third and fourth quarters. Arkansas' totals eclipsed 20 points in each of the final three periods.
Wade went 2-of-3 from long range on Tuesday night, but similar to Arkansas' first game on the tour, he was able to penetrate and drive to draw fouls. He sank 9-of-11 from the free throw line to go along with two other layups for his 19 points. Also a factor on defense, Wade made four steals and altered several other passes which turned into turnovers.
Clarke earned his first start of the preseason on Tuesday night and responded with a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds in 17 minutes of action. The junior college transfer was 4-of-6 from the field and 2-of-2 from the free throw line, but more impressively grabbed five of his 10 rebounds on the offensive end of the floor. Clarke also contributed to the rest of the offense with three assists and defense with three steals.
Five Razorbacks scored in double figures on the day. Behind Wade's 19, BJ Young added 12, Michael Qualls 11 and Clarke and Jacorey Williams each had 10. Sophomore Hunter Mickelson was also active on defense as he blocked four shots and altered several others.
The Razorbacks get two days off from competition to sightsee and travel before taking the court again on Friday against All Star Italy in Rome.