Photo : Walt Beazley / ArkansasRazorbacks.com
Solid defense and sizzling shooting is always a potent combination on the hardwood, and that proved to be the case for the Arkansas Razorbacks Monday in a 90-65 victory over Southern Illinois.
The Hogs ran the Salukis out of Walton Arena and ran their record to 2-0 in front of a relatively sparse announced crowd of 4,270.
Salukis coach Barry Hinson, a longtime friend of Arkansas coach Mike Anderson, was impressed with the Hogs but not so much with the crowd.
“You want to know what I honestly think,” Hinson said. “That was not an Arkansas crowd. I’ve been here before, and that just wasn’t. The fans need to buy the tickets and get their butts in the seats and support this team. Those kids deserve it and the university deserves it. I mean that as a compliment because this is a special place. I’ve been in here when you couldn’t hear yourself yelling when they bring that flag out with three minuets to play and the crowd would just take it to another level. It wasn’t like that tonight.”
It didn’t need to be as the Razorbacks blistered the nets in the first half, hitting 9 of 12 three-pointers and held Southern Illinois to just 24.2 percent shooting from the field to take a commanding 56-25 lead at halftime.
Player of the Game
Senior guard Dusty Hannahs led all scorers with 19 points, which isn’t uncommon for the Razorback who led the team in scoring last year. However, he bounced back from a poor 1-of-6 shooting performance from three-point range in the Hogs’ 92-83 season-opening victory over Fort Wayne to connect on five of his six treys. Hannahs also tracked down five rebounds and dished out an assist to round out his performance.
Play of the Game
In a blowout of this magnitude, it’s difficult to pinpoint a truly pivotal play, but one of the flashiest came with 10:13 left to play in the first half when junior Anton Beard served up a perfect alley-oop pass to high-flying freshman C.J. Jones for rim-rattling slam.
Beard came off the bench, but was effecting pushing the basketball and setting the table for teammates, dishing out six assists and scoring 5 points. Beard struggled last season after being suspended from the team for the first semester, but he looked more like the starter he was as a freshman.
Jones, a 6-6 freshman wing, missed the first game with a knee sprain but looked healthy Monday night, scoring 11 points, and grabbing 2 rebounds in 17 minutes of playing time. He hit 2-of-4 three-pointers and all three of his free throws.
Chair of the Boards
Southern Illinois’ Thik Bol led all rebounders with 12, but Arkansas’ Moses Kingsley gets the nod in this category not only for his seven rebounds, but also for his 5 blocked shots.
“[Kingsley] blocked five but the altered a lot more shots than that,” Hinson said. “We missed a lot of shots around the basket, but there was a reason for it. Having him in the middle makes a difference whether he gets the block or not.”
Overall the Razorbacks outrebounded the Salukis 38-34.
Stat of the Game
The Razorbacks broke the 90-point mark for the second game in a row, and a lot of it had to do with their ability and desire to share the basketball. The Razorbacks had 23 assists on the night with Beard leading the way with 6, junior transfer Daryl Macon dished out 5, while senior Manny Watkins and Dustin Thomas each had 4. The Hogs had nine more assists than turnovers, while Southern Illinois had seven more turnovers than assists.
Strength in Numbers
Depth is usually a factor, one way or the other. After struggling with numbers last season, depth should factor into the Razorbacks’ favor this season. Anderson deployed 12 Razorbacks with 10 of them playing at least 17 minutes.
The Razorbacks are back in action Friday night when Texas-Arlington visits Walton Arena at 7 p.m. The Mavericks are 1-1 on the season after suffering an 84-67 loss to Minnesota on Monday. Studying the film of that game will be extra helpful for the Razorbacks, who travel to Minnesota on Nov. 22. UT-Arlington defeated Texas Southern, 89-82, in their season opener. Jalen Jones leads UT-Arlington in scoring with 20 ppg., followed by Kealon Wilson with 12.5 ppg.., Kevin Harvey with 12.0 ppg., and Erik Neal with 11.0 ppg.