Arkansas Razorbacks Too Much for Mississippi State

Everything clicked for the Arkansas Razorbacks as they routed the Mississippi State Bulldogs 96-70 in Bud Walton Arena on Wednesday. Good defense led to good offense, as the Hogs forced 29 turnovers that led to 42 points points off turnovers.

“We played as a unit tonight, and at times it felt like there was more than five of us out there,” said junior Fred Gulley.

There was certainly a mismatch from the start, as the Bulldogs only played eight players on a depleted roster. The Razorback’s depth was key to putting them away, as Marshawn Powell, BJ Young, Coty Clarke and Jacorey Williams were all able to score in double figures against Mississippi State.

The Hogs started off the game in an up tempo attack, and never really let off the gas pedal. The starting lineup played well for the first few minutes of the game, despite BJ Young not being in the starting lineup for the first time this season. Rashad Madden started in place of him, and the starters were able to jell and make good passes to get open shots early. The team finished with 27 assists, tying their season high in that category.

“Offensively we were unselfish and defensively we were unselfish,” said head coach Mike Anderson.

The point guard Gulley had five of those assists, as well as five points and two steals. Gulley got the start for the fourth game in a row, showing good ball movement and a steady hand at the point that helped the offense flow.

“He is just kind of finding his niche with the basketball team,” Anderson said.

Mississippi State was able to keep it 23-21 with around seven minutes in the first half, but eventually wore down and simply couldn’t handle Arkansas in the paint. BJ Young took some time to heat up, but had seven straight points late in the first half to pad the lead to 42-33 by halftime.

Freshmen MSU guards Fred Thomas and Craig Sword played well early, but ultimately had trouble with the Arkansas pressure. The two finished with a combined 27 points, but also had 15 turnovers between them.

“We can’t give up 96 points in a ball game and expect to have any success,” said MSU head coach Rick Ray.

The second half was more of a dunk contest for the Hogs, as they continued to force turnovers that led to fast break points. Time after time, Arkansas was able to convert turnovers into fast break points. Powell and Young, the Hogs’ scoring leaders, played limited minutes in the second half, opening the stage for some of the younger guys. Coty Clarke played well as usual off the bench, shooting 5-5 from the field for 13 points.

Anderson talked in his press conference Monday about how he wanted to get freshmen Michael Qualls and Anthlon Bell more involved, and was able to do so against the Bulldogs for most of the second half. Qualls finished with five points in 15 minutes of play, including a highlight-reel dunk in the second half. Bell, a long range specialist, finished 3-5 from beyond the arc for five points. Forward Jacorey Williams also played well in the second half, finishing with 10 points.

The Razorbacks are now 12-6 (3-2 in the SEC) and hoping for much of the same on Saturday at South Carolina, where they will hope to come away with their first SEC road win of the season.

“We are looking forward to what we did tonight and taking it on the road,” Gulley said.

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