Marshawn Powell had 19 points in 19 minutes and the Razorbacks hit 10 of their first 11 shots – including nine in a row - en route to an 83-63 win over USC –Upstate before 10,500 at Bud Walton Arena.
"It's been a build up and a lot has been talked about," Anderson said. "To finally get it done is good. I was happy for our guys because they had tremendous effort. If you are going to start a game, that's how you want to start it."
Some 80 fans of those were related to either Anderson or his wife Marcheita as Anderson officially took over after 17 years as an assistant at Arkansas and nine years as head coach at UAB and Missouri.
"It's a special night, it's a special job, it's a special place," noted Anderson, whose is now 10-0 in openers as a head coach as Arkansas won its 17th straight opener.
Richardson actually spoke to the team before the game, something that Anderson characterized as "short and sweet."
"That's the guy that is Arkansas basketball," Powell said. "For him to come in that locker room and speak, that was just an honor. He gave us a sense of purpose."
The crowd also includes Razorback 2013 commit Dederick Lee of Clarksville, Memphis Southwind junior star Joanthan Wiillians and Kentucky commit and Sylvan Hills star Archie Goodwin, on hand to support former Arkansas Wings AAU teammates and Arkansas freshmen Rashad Madden and Hunter Micklelson.
The crowd of 10,500 was over 4,000 more than the 6,404 that showed up for last season's season opener.
"I thought it was good," Anderson said. "It would be even (more) super if we could get more in here."
Rickey Scott added 11 points and 7 assists and Julysess Nobles and Michael Sanchez each chipped in nine points as well in the Razorbacks' season opener.
In fact, eight of the 11 Razorbacks that played had at least seven points and only walk on Kikko Haydar was scoreless.
"The energy was just a happy energy," Powell said. "It wasn't ‘well, let's see what they give us.' Everybody was ready to see what we had in a good way."
The day also included the birth of twin boys for assistant coach T.J. Cleveland and his wife.
Arkansas shot 51.7 percent from the field, hit 3-of-9 3-pointers and hit 20-of-27 free throws and outrebounded its foe 41-32.
That was enough to overcome 23 turnovers while forcing only 19 on a night when the visitors shot 36.8 percent from the field.
"I think the turnovers were disappointing," Anderson said. "When you play a lot of players like we did tonight, you expect some. I can live with maybe 15, 14 in a game of this magnitude. Some of them were just careless turnovers and we can be a team that turns the ball over."
Veteran USC-Upstate coach Eddie Payne was impressed with the Razorbacks' effort, but restrained in how good he thought they good be this season.
"I don't know that they can be a great team yet because they don't have a definitive low-post presence," Payne said. "Powell kind of gets it all kinds of ways. He's really goo, but to advance in the NCAA you need a good strong low-post presence. That's the weakness they have, but their style of play masked that a little."
He also addressed the Razorbacks' four highly-regarded freshmen, who combined for 21 points and 12 rebounds.
"They're freshmen didn't impact the game like I thought they would, but they're going to be good players," Payne said.
The Razorbacks roared out of the gate with some sizzling shooting starting with Nobles' 3-point just seconds into the game.
Arkansas' crowd was roaring by the time the lead got to 21-5 on Marvell Waithe's slam with 13:35 left in the first half.
USC-Upstate did steady itself and got back within nine at one point, but the Razorbacks went on another spree.
Freshman Rashad Madden's two free throws capped an 11-3 surge and put the hosts up 40-21 with 4:14 left before halftime.
Jodd Maxey's bucket with 51 seconds left in the half was the last scoring of the opening half and sent Arkansas to the break with a 41-28 advantage.
That lead quickly raced to 20 when Mardracus Wade scored off B.J. Young's steal as the Razorbacks went ahead 52-32.
The lead crested at 26 at 79-53 on two free throws by Nobles with 4:14 left in the contest.
Madden added 8 points while fellow freshman Mickelson, senior Waithe and sophomore Mardracus Wade all chipped 7 for the Razorbacks.
Freshman DeVonta Abron added 4 points and 4 rebounds and fellow rookie BJ Young 2 points and 5 assists.
Fred Miller led USC-Upstate with 10 points, but leading returner scorer Torrey Craig had just four points while picking up four fouls in the opening half alone.
Arkansas will be back in action next Wednesday when its host Oakland and then will battle Houston in North Little Rock next Friday.
Those are two of the Razorbacks' four games in the Southwest Showcase which also has the Razorbacks facing Utah Valley on Nov. 22 and Grambling State on Nov. 26.
"We'll continue to be a work in progress," Anderson said. "You'll hear that word a lot, but I like the attitude of our team."
Mike Anderson's tenure as the Arkansas head basketball coach got off to a winning start on Friday night.
Former Arkansas head coach Nolan Richardson was on hand for the regular season opener.
Marshawn Powell had a team-high 19 points in 19 minutes and also snared 5 rebounds.
Michael Sanchez and Powell battled on the boards.
Sanchez goes in for two of his nine points as Hunter Mickelson positions himself for a possible rebound.
Mardracus Wade looks for an open teammate as former Arkansas player Blake Eddins looks on from the front row.
Julysess Nobles, who had 9 points and 4 assists, seemingly expresses horror at something that happen during Friday night's game.
Arkansas freshman B.J. Young had 4 assists in the game to go along with his lone basket, a fast-break slam.
Razorback freshman DeVonta Abron grabs one of his four rebounds.
Arkansas' players celebrate with the students after the win.
Photos by Marc F. Henning