The Razorbacks began their final exhibition game against the fighting Gorillas of Pittsburg State very similarly to the way it started against Central Oklahoma, struggling to find any rhythm early on offensively, but there was never any doubt they would eventually pull away.
It took Arkansas a little bit longer to separate itself from Pitt State, however, who gave a valiant effort and put up a good fight despite being outmanned and at a drastic height disadvantage. The Razorbacks led by eight with just under 15 to go, but used a 10-0 run to blow the lead wide open and cruise to a win.
Bobby Portis led the way for Arkansas, scoring 10 first half points. The sophomore got the offense off and running in the second half, pouring in nine points shortly after halftime to finish with 22 on the night. He made a living at the foul line, too, connecting on 10-of-14 attempts. After the game, Portis cleared up his injury in the game's opening minutes, saying he and a Pitt State player had an altercation, and was extra dramatic in trying to get the referees to go to the monitor to get the player out of the game. His acting job ultimately failed, but you can't fault the effort.
Jacorey Williams, Michael Qualls and Moses Kingsley also had nice games, pitching in 13 points apiece. Qualls connected on his first two 3-pointers of the game before finishing 3-of-5 from deep. Williams brought a lot of energy off the bench, and continues to show he can be a valuable weapon for Mike Anderson this season.
Kingsley stole the show for the span of a few minutes in the second half. In one sequence, Kingsley was the recipient of a ferocious dunk assisted by Williams, pulled down a defensive rebound on the other end, then rebounded a missed 3-pointer by Anton Beard and stuck it back. His layup put the Razorbacks up 20 with 10:37 remaining and put the cap on what we already knew would be an Arkansas win.
Pitt State's Devon Branch, easily the most talented player on the Gorilla's roster, attempted a one-hand dunk on Kingsley early in the second half, and it did not end well for him. The big man swatted the dunk away and led to a transition opportunity for the Razorbacks.
The referees definitely got their money's worth tonight, also. A total of 58 fouls were called in the game and completely eliminated any flow the game ever had. Jabril Durham, who contributed four assists and two steals in 12 minutes, fouled out, and Pitt State also had three players foul out. A total of 71 free throws were shot, which, with the sloppy play, made the game drag.
Now the fun begins. Arkansas officially opens its season Sunday against Alabama State, who Mike Anderson says is picked to win its league. How good will they be? We don't know for sure, but the Razorbacks need to enter with a more serious and focused mindset than they played with tonight.
Perhaps the players were looking ahead to Sunday, but if this team hopes to be great, it needs to bring a killer instinct for each and every game this season.