Defense ignites Arkansas to 20-point win over Mississippi State
FAYETTEVILLE, AR (arkansasrazorbacks.com) – Behind a 20-0 run in the first half that featured a Mississippi State scoring drought of over 13 minutes, Arkansas picked up its fifth win in the last six games with a 61-41 victory on Saturday in front of a sellout crowd at Bud Walton Arena.
With the game tied 7-7 at the 14:40 mark of the first half, the Razorbacks unleashed a 20-0 run that absorbed the next 13:22 off the clock. Over the game-changing run, the Bulldogs went 21 possessions without a point, including 0-of-15 from the field and 10 turnovers.
It marked the fifth straight game Arkansas has held its opponent to less than 65 points – a program first in SEC play – while it's won back-to-back SEC games by 20 points for the first time since the end of the 1992-93 campaign.
With the second half of the SEC regular season now underway, Arkansas is 18-5 overall and 7-3 in league action to sit in at least a share of second place. The loss snapped a two-game win streak for Mississippi State (11-11, 4-6), who was coming off a road win at Tennessee and a home victory over LSU.
Not lost in Arkansas' best start-to-finish defensive effort of the season was sophomore Bobby Portis' eighth double-double in SEC play. Portis finished with game-highs of 19 points and 11 rebounds, doing so in front of fellow Hall High School alum and Little Rock native Sidney Moncrief who was honored at halftime with a banner in the rafters of BWA.
With Portis working inside, junior Anthlon Bell found his rhythm from the outside, hitting 4-of-8 from three-point land for 12 points. Senior Alandise Harris added nine points while classmate Rashad Madden had seven points, four rebounds and a team-high four assists.
The 41 points allowed by Arkansas is the lowest since Jan. 12, 2013, when Arkansas held Vanderbilt to 33 points at Bud Walton Arena. Mississippi State shot 31 percent (14-45) from the field, including 0-for-10 from three. Arkansas had a season-best 15 steals, scoring 22 points off 24 turnovers by the Bulldogs.
Coach Anderson Postgame Sound “Today was a great defensive performance. The difference to me on the defensive end the last five games is that we are giving maximum effort. To be a great defensive team with the style that we play, our guys have to trust each other. This is a close team and they are out there playing for each other.”
Worthy Of A Hog Call (#WPS) At halftime, Arkansas honored one of its greats as it raised a tribute banner into the rafters of Bud Walton Arena in honor of three-time All-American and Little Rock native Sidney Moncrief. The only Razorback to have his jersey retired, Moncrief's No. 32 banner hung in Barnhill Arena and now resides in BWA.
#RazorStat Of The Game Arkansas improved to 15-0 on the season when forcing its opponents into 15+ turnovers. The Bulldogs committed double-digit miscues in each half, while Arkansas improved to 25-1 under head coach Mike Anderson when forcing 20 turnovers. Over the last two games, Arkansas' opponents have 31 made field goals and 44 turnovers.
@RazorbackMBB Quick Hits • Arkansas' 7-3 mark through the first 10 SEC games is its best since 1997-98. • Arkansas has won five of its last six games. • Arkansas is 14-1 at Bud Walton Arena. • First time since February of 1984 that Arkansas has held five straight conference opponents under 65 points. Last time was in Southwest Conference play. (@HogStats) • Arkansas has allowed less than 30 points in seven of the last 10 halves. • Arkansas has won 24 straight games when leading at the half. • Sixth time (6-0) this year Arkansas has forced 20 turnovers. • Last two opponents are averaging 48 points per game with 44 combined turnovers. • Arkansas has forced double figure turnovers in 14 halves this year. • Portis extended his career-long streak of consecutive double figure games to 18. • Portis has a team-high 10 double-doubles on the season. • Over his career, Portis has a double-double against nine of the other 13 SEC teams. • Arkansas improved to 17-3 when Bell reaches double figures. • Bell has made four or more threes in a game five times this season.
Up Next Arkansas will hit the road for a pair of games next week, beginning at Auburn on Tuesday night. Tip is slated for 8 p.m. CT on the SEC Network.