The Razorbacks left Bud Walton Arena on March 5th thinking they'd ended the season with a brilliant 110-point performance, but they had the chance for an encore Tuesday night after falling into the NIT, and they again left the court with a memorable performance.
After an ugly 1st half in which Anthlon Bell single-handedly kept the Hogs from an Alabama-like first half deficit, the team came alive in the second half. Bobby Portis and Alandise Harris, who combined for three first half points on 0-9 shooting, combined for 20 second half points.
The team was clicking on all cylinders in the last 20 minutes. The team as a whole shot 64.5% while holding Indiana State to 35.5%. Rashad Madden had five assists compared to zero in the first half. The highlight was probably a behind-the-back pass in traffic from Rashad Madden to Portis for a two-handed dunk.
Indiana State did make a run in the middle of the second half that cut what was a 19 point lead to eight, but then Coty Clarke hit a few free throws, Harris converted a pair of layups, and then Bell closed it out with a couple of threes and another jumper, which led to his new career-high of 28 points. That made the end of the game really easy.
During the first half, it was easy to wonder if the team - other than Bell - was suffering like the type of team that didn't care about playing in the NIT. The team was missing easy shots, they were 1-for-9 from inside the paint, but the players made clear by their play in the second half, and Coty Clarke's comments after the game, this team isn't ready to hang it up just yet.
Arkansas awaits the winner of Wednesday night's game between Cal and Utah Valley. The Hogs travel to Berkeley if Cal wins but would host Utah Valley if they win.
It should also be noted, Arkansas estimated the actual attendance to be just 7,697, but it was a loud, active crowd. It was a fun atmosphere. Hopefully, if the Razorbacks play in Bud Walton again, they'll enjoy a similar treatment. The general admission seating helped because fans were able to crowd the lower-level mid-court sections instead of being scattered around the arena. It was a fun night.
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