The pre-conference tune-ups are now in the rear view mirror.
Playing with a potential impact transfer looking on, freshman B.J. Young and starting backcourt mate Rickey Scott each scored 17 points as the Razorbacks whipped Savannah State 83-66 Tuesday night before 6,200 fans at Bud Walton Arena.
Marvell Waithe added 14 points - including three free throws to end a seven-minute scoring drought - and also 7 rebounds and 3 blocks as Arkansas let a 24-point second-half lead slip to six before closing out the game on a 15-4 run.
"It was great to see how we responded (at the end)," Razorback head coach Mike Anderson said. "I thought we responded in a positive way. I thought we dug in on defense and got some stops and got all the loose balls."
Mardracus Wadeadded 10 points in the sixth straight win for Arkansas (11-3), who will open up SEC play on Saturday against No. 15 Mississippi State (12-2).
The Razorbacks will be trying to cap a seven-game home stand unbeaten with a win over the Bulldogs on Saturday night at 8 p.m.
"It was a tale of two halves," Anderson said. "In the first half, defensively we got after it. In the second half we got a lead, but didn't finish the way I envisioned."
Sophomore point guard Nurideen Lindsey (6-3, 185), who is transferring from St. John's after starting nine games there the first semester, was in the stands and is currently visiting Arkansas.
Hunter Mickelson added 7 points and 5 rebounds and also swatted away three shots as he extended his streak of at least one blocked shot in each game of his college career to 14.
The Razorbacks led by 24 points in the second half before the Tigers charged back to cut it to 68-62 with 3:20 remaining.
That came during a stretch where Arkansas did not score from Young's lay-up at the 9:39 mark to Waithe's three free throws with 2:45 remaining.
The charity tosses by Waithe - who was 9-of-10 from the free throw line - started a 15-4 surge to end the contest.
"I just thought they made their run and we got a little complacent," Anderson said. "I thought we were tentative in what we did. I know defensively we weren't doing a very good job. We were not in attack mode. We were not aggressive. They were getting two many lay-ups - whether it was against a man-to-man or against our zone. I think we just thought the game was over with."
Young started the second game of his college career and had a much better start than his initial one last month in which he was very tentative.
Young - who has nevertheless been Arkansas' leading scorer while coming off the bench - was 6-of-11 from the field, 2-of-3 from 3-point range and 3-of-4 from the free throw line.
He did have five turnovers while starting in place of junior guard Julysess Nobles.
"I thought he was in a little bit more of an attack mode," Anderson said. "I thought he was playing the right way. He was active on defense. I thought he played well early on. I thought he was a little sloppy with the basketball and that is something we have to address not only with BJ, but with the whole team."
The Razorbacks shot 50 percent (24-of-48) from the field, made 4-of-8 3-pointers and cashed in 31-of-39 free throws in the win.
The massive amount of free throws and less than 10 3-pointers was a result of taking what the opponent gave Arkansas according to Anderson.
"It was attack basketball," Anderson said. "That is what they were giving us. They gave us an opportunity whether it was throwing it inside or quick ball reversal, screen and rolls. I thought our guys did a good job of attacking, getting to the free throw line and making them."
Arkansas did have a whopping 23 turnovers while forcing 16 in the win.
"They pressured us, but I didn't think that it was that great of a pressure," Anderson said. "We are a team that is forcing turnovers, but we want to take care of the basketball. We have got to continue to re-evaluate that and improve on it."
Anderson said he knows how to solve the problem.
"We will have the right guys in and making the right decisions,,' Anderson said. "That is how you cut those down. Again a bunch (13) of those turnovers happened in the second half and two of our freshman had eight of them. We have to make sure those guys are put in a situation where they have a chance to be successful with some of our better ball-handlers."
Arnold Louis had 13 points to lead Savannah State (5-9), who are coached by former Georgetown player Horace Broadnaux and shot 38.5 percent from the field.
Arkansas 83, Savannah State 66
Hawgs Daily Top Stories
TCU vs Iowa State primerAfter falling in double-overtime to Arkansas, TCU looks to get back to their winning ways against Iowa State.
Horned Frog Insider09/15/2016
The Ultimate Midlands TeamThere is a lot of talent in the Midlands region, with a vast majority of the highest rated recruits playing high school football in the Lone Star State. Which prospects made the…
These rival helmet color swaps are revoltingSwapping rival teams' helmet colors? It shouldn't have been done, but someone did it anyway.
Post-July 2017 Top 100 Player RankingsWith the July evaluation periods, Nike Skills Academy, adidas Nations and Under Armour's Elite 24 over, Scout's basketball recruiting team has updated the 2017 top 100. DeAndre…
2017 South Region Top 150The stars are lined up in the 2017 South Top 150 and you can see the full pre-season list here...