Celebrated freshman Bobby Portis may not be the savior of Arkansas basketball, but he showed Friday night why he's a really good addition to the effort to bring it back.
Senior Coty Clarke had a perfect shooting night while scoring 14 points while Portis added 13 points and 12 rebounds – getting a double-double before halftime – as Arkansas downed Missouri Southern 99-82 in exhibition action before 5,323 fans at Bud Walton Arena.
"It was the first game and I am glad that we had a game up under our belt to get a little more informed on our basketball team and guys that we have talked about and coming in to be an impact on our program," Anderson said. "We saw that in the first half with a guy like Bobby Portis."
Portis – a 6-10, 242-pound McDonald's All-American – was 5-of-10 from the field, knocked down a 3-pointer, had a block, one turnover and did not have a foul in 24 minutes of action.
Portis, who is very humble, was surprised that he got to start his first college game.
"I was surprised that I got to start because I am a freshman and normally Coach Anderson doesn't start freshmen," Portis said. "So it was pretty exciting. I found out about three minutes before the game. I am never nervous because I love basketball."
He had 11 points and 10 rebounds by intermission, which came with Arkansas leading 57-37 and shooting 56.8 percent from the field while making 21 of 37 shots.
"Bobby has been practicing well," Anderson said. "It is a combination of practicing well and bringing something to our team that we don't have – a guy with size. He has a tremendous basketball IQ, a magnet for the ball and he rebounds the ball high and he knows how to get it out.
"For a guy that size that is really special because a lot of guys are not going to come out there and guard him," Anderson added. "And then you got a guy like Coty that can step out as well."
Clark, who also had 6 rebounds, had a perfect shooting night (4-4 FG, 6-6 FT) while Anthlon Bell added 13 points, Kikko Haydar 11 and Alandise Harris 10 as the Razorbacks opened up their two-game exhibition slate.
Bell had a trio of 3-pointers, but went cold after Arkansas hit 5 of its first 7 from beyond the arc and then only 4 of its next 17.
Mardracus Wade and Michael Qualls added 9 points each for Arkansas and freshman big man Moses Kingsley 7 rebounds for the Razorbacks.
Arkansas won the board battle 48-35 and held Missouri Southern to 43.3 percent shooting from the field.
"I thought we played with a lot of energy, but we still have a lot of work to do," Bell said. "We played as a team and had a lot of assists. That means we were moving the ball better than last year, but we still have a lot of work to do."
Kingsley had 6 offensive rebounds while Harris, Clarke and Portis all had four each among the Razorbacks' 22 offensive rebounds.
Arkansas had 22 assists on its 34 field goals in the game, shooting 45.7 percent overall for the contest.
"That tells you our guys are really trying to share the basketball and sometimes that is to a fault," Anderson said. "That is not to take anything away from Missouri Southern. I thought they played with everything to gain and nothing to lose and had a game up under their belt."
Arkansas, who was 26-of-37 from the free throw line, was somewhat sluggish after intermission and made just 11-of-33 shots from the field.
Anderson did not play anyone more than Clarke's 25 minutes and 10 players who got double-digit minutes.
"The second half was probably moreso my fault than anything else because I am such a good guy that I let everybody play so they can get a chance to go out after working extremely hard in practice.
"So you want to see what they can go out and do, but next game it may not be as generous in terms of playing time," Anderson added. "You have got to earn it every day in practice.
"But I saw a lot of bright spots and I feel we can be a good rebounding team," Anderson continued. "The only down on that was they got 15 offensive rebounds and I thought we could do a better job of that. A lot of those were in the second half."
"In my mind our defense has to get a lot better," Anderson said. "How do you get your defense better. You get the guys the right mix of guys out there."
Portis, who started along with Harris, Clarke, Bell and Rickey Scott, agreed there is plenty of work to be done.
"Our defense needs to pick up and our big men need to get more blocks down low," Portis said. "I felt like they were getting lay-ups and I wasn't getting any blocks."
Harris agreed with that sentiment.
"I feel that we have got to just help more on the defensive end and stay solid, pressure the ball without fouling," Harris said.
The Razorbacks will get right back to work in advance of Tuesday's contest.
"I thought we played well at times tonight, but there are a lot of things we need to get in the gym and work on tomorrow," Anderson said.
The Razorbacks played without point guard Rashad Madden, who was suspended for the two exhibition games and next Friday's regular season opener next Friday against SIU-Edwardsville.
"He's got to learn," Anderson said. "It's team rules and everyone has to abide by. It's accountability."
Anderson said Madden is continuing to practice.
"You always want to have all of your guys on board," Anderson added. "These guys worked hard all summer long, all fall long and they have done some good things on and off the floor.
"Ky (Madden) is one of those guys that has been playing at a high level," Anderson continued. "He has been playing at a high level, but that is what team is all about. That is why we are 'We Hogs.' If one guy is not there then the next guy has to step up and come in."
Bobby Portis scored 13 points, with 12 rebounds.
Jacorey Williams converts a layup.
Kikko Haydar tied for the team lead with four assists.
Michael Qualls scored 9 points.
Rickey Scott pushes the ball on the fast break.
Coty Clarke led the Hogs with 14 points.
Bobby Portis was 5 of 10 from the field.
Photos by Jason Ivester, Hawgs Illustrated
Arkansas 99, Missouri Southern 82
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