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Arkansas Razorbacks 71, North Dakota State 55: One Quick Burst

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NCAA Basketball: Arkansas at Texas Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

If you thought Arkansas would come out guns blazing after the win over Texas on Saturday, you’d be right. For the first minute, anyway.

Daryl Macon opened the game with a three and Dustin Thomas followed up with a layup, but then things got clunky. Both teams shot under 40% for the game. At halftime Arkansas led by six but only scored 27 points. North Dakota State only made four field goals in the last 15 minutes of the first half. It was pretty forgettable.

The Razorbacks blew the game open early in the second half on a 16-0 run that included three straight 3s, the first two by Dusty Hannahs and the third by Macon, and then an old school three point play from Moses Kingsley. The 16 points took just 4:12. The game was basically over at that point. The Bison never got closer than 11 points the rest of the way.

It certainly wasn’t Arkansas’ most impressive performance of the season, but it didn’t have to be. Arkansas was much better in the second half, as they have been all year, scoring 44 points in the final 20 minutes. That’s a trend that’s been opposite of what we’ve seen so far in the Mike Anderson era. It’ll be interesting to see if that continues in SEC play, which starts next week.

Part of that has been Kingsley’s frequent habit of picking up his game in the second half. His numbers have been better in the second half of most if not every game this season so far. He still finished with 11 points and 8 rebounds, but it’s hard not to be concerned about his lack of production in the paint earlier in games.

Something fun that happened: Hannahs hit a deep three at the buzzer to set the final margin. Normally that’s not a big deal, but the spread going into the game was 15 points, so the needless three gave Arkansas the cover. Congrats to the Razorback gamblers out there. Unless you bet on North Dakota State, in which case, ouch, I’m so sorry.

Now the Razorbacks get ready for the annual December game in North Little Rock at Verizon Arena on Thursday night. The game is against Sam Houston State, and Arkansas will be favored, but it seems like those games at Verizon are always slugfests. I think it’s a terrible basketball arena, especially the end of the floor that always leaves a big gap of concrete between the basket and the fans. Hopefully Arkansas will be able to handle it this year. It’s the last non-conference game before SEC play opens up next week in Fayetteville against Florida.