A lot of the talk about this season's Arkansas basketball team has centered around a trio of newcomers, but a trio of improved sophomores made their bid for some acclaim on Sunday afternoon.
Jacorey Willams had 21 points, Michael Qualls 20 and Anthlon Bell 19 to lead the White squad over the Red 112-102 before 3,500 fans at Bud Walton Arena.
Junior Mardracus Wade added 19 points, Coty Clarke 15 points and a game-high 10 boards, Rickey Scott 12 points and 5 assists and sophomore Dee Wagner 7 assists as a team of out-of-state Razorbacks beat the ones born inside the state.
"You can see the guys that are making the moves are the guys that were here last year and guys that we brought in are stepping it up another notch," Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson said.
"Why are they stepping it up? Because we have some other good players coming in here and the demand," Anderson added. "You have got to bring it and bring quality playing time because I can't play everybody. So who are going to be those guys?
"The competition – you can see it," Anderson added. "That competition that has been going on in practice each and every day. They showcased some of it today."
Newcomer Alandise Harris led the Red team and all scorers with 26 points and 9 rebounds while Fred Gulley and Rashad Madden both added 24 points.
"He (Harris) is doing a lot of blue collar work," Anderson said. "Defensively I think he has to get a whole lot better for our basketball team, but he has a knack for getting to the free throw line and he has just got to learn how to continue to make free throws. He made 7 out of 9 tonight and had 9 rebounds. Those are pretty good numbers there. It is a big difference and he will help our basketball team."
Harris, who was only able to play the Red-White game last season, is excited about Friday night's first exhibition game with Missouri Southern.
"It feels good," Harris said. "That was just a start to my Razorback career right there. I just wanted to get a great feeling for this game Friday. I played good. I had a couple of lapses on defense. That's it."
Gulley hit 5-of-6 3-pointers – several late to narrow down a 20-plus point deficit – while Madden had 8 assists, 6 rebounds and 3 steals in addition to 6 of his team's 18 turnovers.
"I was glad to see some of our guard play: Ky Madden, I thought he is a guy that kind of tried to take the Red team on his shoulders," Anderson said. "He was distributing the basketball and trying to score and getting to the free throw line. So you had a bunch of guys that can bring different things to the table.
"Now it's a matter of putting it all together and making sure they understand we are going to put our hats on our defense," Anderson added.
Williams was 9 of 11 from the field, including 3-of-5 from 3-point range as he looked much more under control than last season.
"I think it's more of an experience thing than anything," Williams said. "Last year I wanted to do everything right, which I had the right ideas. I was just trying to make them too quick. He (Anderson) told me to be quick, but slow down at the same time."
"So I just told myself when I caught the ball, observe everything, and I'll know when it's my time to take the shot or pass or whatever," Williams added.
Bell was 5-of-9 from beyond the arc and started by making five of his first six.
"Once the first one goes through, it feels like I can't miss," Bell said. "Once my confidence gets rolling, I just feel like I can't miss. I think it's ball movement, too. … Without teammates passing me the ball, I wouldn't be making shots like that."
Both 6-10 freshmen also showed off their skills with Bobby Portis having 18 points and 5 rebounds and Moses Kingsley 6 points, 8 rebounds and and couple of blocked shots.
"He's an outstanding player," Williams said of Portis. "Obviously, y'all saw the rebounding that we were pretty much missing. Him and Moses both. And we've got Alandise rebounding. I just feel like they bring size rebounding. Bobby's a skilled forward, and one of Coach A's guys, so I feel like he's going to help us a lot."
For a team that lost its top two scorers, this Razorback squad showed it had a variety of scoring options at least on this day.
"You saw what I saw, it was a high-scoring affair," Anderson said. "That tells that we do have a chance to have some guys that can put the ball in the hole. The biggest question mark as we move past the Red-White game is will we be able to stop somebody? That's the biggest question.
"But I like that we have more options," Anderson added. " You can see we have more balance on this basketball team and we certainly on any given night have guys that can put points in the hole.
Williams said that the Razorbacks will have defense when the games get real.
"We were just trying to have a little fun," Williams said. "Coach is in our head constantly about defense. He preaches that, so we're going to play defense."
Photos by Jason Ivester
Bobby Portis tries to get past JaCorey Williams
Rashad Madden is defended by Williams and Mardracus Wade.
Moses Kingsley shoots over Keaton Miles
Fred Gulley had 24 points on Sunday.
Anthlon Bell drives to the basket.
White 112, Red 102
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