After a frigid opening half shooting, the Razorbacks started knocking shots out of intermission and eventually downed LSU 69-60 Saturday night before a season-high 14,800 fans at Bud Walton Arena.
B.J. Young had 19 points, Julysess Nobles 15 and Mardracus Wade 14 as Arkansas (13-4, 2-1) stayed unbeaten at home this season.
"You have got to be able to take care of the homecourt and we take pride in that," Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson said. "...I thought the energy was in the building tonight. I have got to give our fans a tremendous amount of credit. You could just feel it in the building tonight. It was just a different vibe. Our students are back and our students I want to thank our students for coming out. Invite many more. C'mon."
DeVonta Abron added a game-high 13 rebounds and fellow freshman< A HREF=//arkansas.scout.com/a.z?s=10&p=8&c=1&nid=3765491>Hunter Mickelson tied a career high with 7 blocks for the Razorbacks, who bounced back from a 71-63 loss at Ole Miss on Wednesday night.
"DeVonta Abron is one of the guys that I really challenged and he stepped up had really had a big performance for us," Anderson said. "He got some rebounds that came to him, but also some out of his area, which is big for our basketball team."
Abron had 16 rebounds against UConn, but came into the game averaging just 4.7 boards per game this season.
"I felt like we weren't doing good on rebounding," Abron said. "Coach had been getting on to us about rebounding, so I just set my mind to go get the rebounds."
Justin Hamilton, the Tigers' 7-foot, 260-pound center, had 20 points to lead LSU (11-6, 1-2) while Anthony Hickey added 14.
The crowd included several members of the Arkansas football team and coaches as well as the nine official visitors they are hosting this weekend.
It was the largest crowd at Bud Walton Arena since 15,633 came to see Arkansas and Ole Miss on March 4, 2009.
"It's obvious that they (the Razorbacks) are a much improved group," LSU head coach Trent Johnson said. "I thought we did a really, really good job of competing at a high level, but against a team like this that puts a lot of pressure on you both offensively and defensively - and you have the opportunity to hit opens shots and you don't do it - then it's tough." The Razorbacks were woeful from the field in the first half – hitting just 32 percent from the field (9 of 28) from the floor and not being able to throw it in the ocean from the beach.
But nevertheless Arkansas forced 10 LSU turnovers and took a 30-29 lead to intermission when Young hit a free throw with 0.4 seconds left.
"I thought we were pressing in the first half," Anderson said. " Not literally pressing, but just wanting to do something so bad. You even saw it at the free throw line. I thought we started tightening up at the free throw line. Made one, miss one, miss two. Defensively I thought we were doing a lot of good things, but LSU just kind of hung around."
But Arkansas hit 7 of its first 10 second half shots, going on a 9-0 run that gave it a 41-33 edge at the 15:39 mark.
"We wanted to come out with a lot of energy," Young said. "We took open shots and moved the ball well. We got the good shot and when we did, guys came in and knocked them down."
That surge coincided with Anderson deciding to start 6-5 freshman guard Rashad "Ky" Madden in the second half instead of Rickey Scott.
Madden had 5 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists and 2 steals on the night.
"I thought in the second half that there was a better flow, a better rhythm to the game," Anderson said. "I thought Ky (Madden) came in. We started him the second half and I thought he gave us a guy that really created some problems for them with his versatility and handling the ball and getting other guys in scoring areas and defensively with his length and rebound the basketball." The Razorbacks never gave up that lead, albeit the Tigers did close within 56-52 with just over six minutes left.
Hamilton's buckets twice cut it to five points in the last 90 seconds of the game, but Arkansas hit just enough free throws to put away the game.
Nobles, who also had six rebounds, had 12 of his 15 points in the second half despite getting his third foul early in the second half.
"I tell you what, Nobles really stepped up the second half and showed the type of player he is and the type of leader he is," Anderson said. "He came in and got in foul trouble on that first play, but the first play he came in he got a steal and started making some shots. Before you know it, our defense was really good. I thought our defense was great tonight. Really good against a good LSU team."
The hosts ended up shooting 42.3 percent from the field for the game while the visitors ended the night at a 34.8 percent clip.
Ironically, Arkansas shooting was better from long distance than short ones as the Razorbacks hit 9-of-18 3-pointer and just 13-of-34 shots inside the arc.
"In the first half we missed a lot of easy shots, lay-ups," Anderson said. "Shots that we normally make. But I thought LSU kind of packed its defense. They went zone for quite a bit in the second half. But there defense is where they have tremendous help side so it is going to leave guys open and they have got to make shots."
LSU had 16 turnovers and won the board battle 46-38, but Arkansas had a 21-18 rebounding edge after halftime.
The Tigers were just 3-of-18 from 3-point range.
"Going 3-of-18 from the three, I don't think you are going to beat a lot of people," Johnson said. "I can't fault our guys effort. I think for the most part we did a good defensively and had the tempo to a pace on the road that we like to play at, but we just came up short down the stretch because they made plays and we didn't.
Mickelson not only blocked seven shots, but extended his streak to 17 games in which he had blocked at least one shot on a night when the Razorbacks swatted away nine.
Arkansas will add two news players in practice next week when 6-3 St. John's transfer Nurideen Lindsey and Arkansas back-up quarterback Brandon Mitchell both join the team.
Mitchell, who played basketball as a true freshman, sit on the bench in street clothes on Saturday night.
"He is kind of grasping and see what takes place," Anderson said of Mitchell. "He hasn't worked out or anything. We'll see what unfolds next week We are going to bring him along slowly. It is something that he wants to give a shot."
Anderson can not talk about Lindsey until he arrives on campus and enrolls in school.
"We can use some bodies," Anderson said.
The Razorbacks will return to action on Tuesday night when it travels to play Kentucky in an 8 p.m. game that will be nationally televised by ESPN.
"We have to have a tremendous effort by everybody on our basketball team," Anderson said.
Photos by Marc F. Henning
DeVonta Abron had 13 rebounds.
BJ Young had 19 points
Julysess Nobles had 15 points and 6 rebounds
Hunter Micklelson matched his career high with 7 blocked shots
Marvell Waithe goes up to get one of the Razorbacks' nine swats on the night.
Rashad Madden passes out of a double team.
Rickey Scott gets to the rack.
Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson gives instructions to Abron