Easily the biggest win so far of Mike Anderson's tenure at Arkansas. Not just because Florida was #2, but because enthusiasm for the program had fallen so much since beating ranked Michigan and Vanderbilt teams in January 2012. After ending the 2012 season so poorly and no real accomplishments thus far this season, along with hugely disappointing games at Texas A&M and South Carolina, fans were starting to wonder how far Mike Anderson could actually take Arkansas.
This game was exactly what the basketball program needed. Judging from the reaction on social media, it was easily the most excitement fans have had for basketball in a long while. It's an opportunity for the program to build off of something, the way the program could have after January 2012 or after defeating ranked Oklahoma and Texas teams in 2009 but fell flat afterwards. This is something that can cause fans and players to buy in to the system even more.
It was another great performance from the whole team. It wasn't some fluke. Not that Florida's not a better team than Arkansas, because they are, and Arkansas did shoot out of their minds in the first half, but came back to Earth in the second. They finished shooting 49.1% from the field, not insane numbers. It wasn't Florida's best game, but the Razorbacks played really, really well, and it was enough for an impressive victory. Against Tennessee, BJ Young had to score 25 points to lead the team to victory. Tuesday night, Young led the team again, but this time with just 13 points. Marshawn Powell and Michael Qualls each scored 11. Then five players scored between 7 and 9 points. Six players had at least 4 rebounds. Once again, Arkansas' depth played a role, as the Hogs played 10 players at least 5 minutes, while Florida only had 7 players reach that mark.
Also, it's awesome to see the freshmen begin to develop. After spending most of the season on the bench, Michael Qualls and Jacorey Williams have been reliable contributors over the last few games. It's a welcome sight to those wondering if this year's freshmen class would be able to provide much help. Regardless where this team ends up at the end of the season, it's good to see that development. Credit Anderson and his staff for bringing them along.
Arkansas came out guns blazing and led 43-26 at halftime. Mardracus Wade looked like the shooter we know he can be by knocking down a pair of threes early and the Razorbacks never looked back. The Gators made a run in the second half but never got closer than the final score. Every time the Hogs needed a shot, someone stepped up. Once it was a Qualls jumper as the shot clock was winding down. Another time it was a Qualls and-1 dunk as the Razorbacks beat Florida's full-court press.
Now, if they can keep the momentum going on the road to Vanderbilt on Saturday...