Last season, the Razorbacks didn't win a game outside of Bud Walton Arena until a late victory over Auburn in one of the last road games of the year. Arkansas managed to clear that hurdle by Christmas this season with a dominant win over Alabama A&M.
Yes, playing at Verizon Arena in North Little Rock is still technically a home game, but considering the Razorbacks' struggles on the river, getting a victory there should be a welcome accomplishment for the team. Arkansas is now just 6-8 at Verizon Arena, and this was the program's first win since defeating North Texas in 2009 (you may remember that as part of the incredibly brief peak of the Pel era, as that game was sandwiched between the memorable Oklahoma and Texas games).
And, sure, Arkansas wasn't playing a particularly high-profile opponent, but look at the full SEC slate from Saturday: Alabama lost to Mercer, A&M lost to Southern, Ole Miss lost to Indiana State, Auburn lost to Winthrop, Florida lost to Kansas State, and LSU lost to Marquette. I'll take an easy win.
Everybody on the roster got to play. Marshawn Powell led the team in scoring again with 20 points and pitched in six rebounds. BJ Young scored 13 but added nine assists as he continues to develop a better overall game. Young and Powell were the only players to play more than 20 minutes as Mike Anderson was able to get the younger players on the floor and rest some legs for everyone else.
For Powell, it was a much better experience than his last trip to Verizon Arena, which is when he injured his knee last season. This time, Powell earned his spot in Razorback history by scoring his 1,000th career point, which came on a dunk.
Arkansas outscored Alabama A&M 24-6 in points off turnovers. The Razorbacks shot 51.4% from the field but only 27.8% on three point attempts. The Hogs were 18/25 from the free throw line.
Here's the press release from UA:
NORTH LITTLE ROCK – Junior Marshawn Powell scored his 1,000th career point as the University of Arkansas basketball team nabbed a 95-68 Razorback victory over the Alabama A&M Bulldogs at Verizon Arena in North Little Rock.
"We started the game with great focus and played the game the right way, sharing the basketball, making the extra pass and hitting open shots," head coach Mike Anderson said.
It was a total team effort with 12 Razorbacks recording points as Arkansas routed the Bulldogs. Four Razorbacks scored in double figures. Powell needed just 19 points at the start of the game become the 35th player in Arkansas history to record 1,000 career points and the junior did just that, netting a game-high 20 points and six boards.
"You can see his confidence continuing to grow," Anderson said. "If you ask him he is trying to do everything he can to help our team."
Sophomore BJ Young finished the night just shy of a double-double with 13 points and a career-high nine assists in the 35th double-digit scoring game of his career. Freshman Jacorey Williams also put up some big numbers as he scored 10 points off 4-4 shooting. Rounding out the Razorbacks in double-figures was junior Coty Clarke, who recorded 10 points and eight rebounds.
Arkansas continued to show they can score down low as the team scored 54 of their 95 points in the paint. The Razorbacks also out-rebounded the Bulldogs 40-31.
To start out the contest the Razorbacks put on a lights-out shooting performance as they connected on their first seven shots for a total of 16 points. At that point the Razorbacks led the Bulldogs by 10 with a score of 16-6. In the first 3:25, Arkansas had five assists, one rebound, one steal and one block in the books. With 6:27 left on the clock in the first, the Bulldogs went on a 6-0 run to close the ever-growing Razorback lead to eight, 40-32. Arkansas would answer the Bulldogs with an 11-2 run to close the half, limiting the Bulldogs to just one basket in the final 5:26. The Razorbacks would enter the locker room with a 51-34 lead.
Arkansas capitalized on Alabama A&M turnovers scoring 21 points off 14 Bulldog turnovers in the first. Arkansas tallied nine steals and five blocks to add to their first half numbers.
The Hogs opened the second half in high fashion with a 23-8 run. With 14:36 remaining Arkansas went on a 10-0 run, which ended with a three-point basket from junior Kikko Haydar that sent the crowd to its feet, giving the Hogs a 74-42 lead. The Hogs and the Bulldogs would trade baskets for the remainder of the contest as the Razorbacks led 29-26 the rest of the way, closing out the game with a final score of 95-68.
"We appreciated fans showing up, and there was a lot of energy in the building tonight," Anderson said.
The Razorbacks will return to Fayetteville for their next contest as they take on Northwestern State at Bud Walton Arena at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 29.