One good way to assure yourself a win in the season opener is to throw a 39-6 spree in there somewhere.
That's just what Arkansas did in the first half Friday night as they started the season off by routing Southern Illinois University Edwardsville 99-65 before 6,543 fans at Bud Walton Arena.
Anthlon Bell had a career-high 18 points, high-flying Michael Qualls 16, Alandise Harris 15, Mardracus Wade 11 and Coty Clarke 10 points, 8 rebounds , 3 steals and 2 blocks as five Razorbacks scored in double figures in the lid-lifter of the 2013-2014 season.
"First I was proud of our guys' effort," Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson said. "Our energy was very high and we made some shots early on. Edwardsville made a run back at us and I thought our guys really relied on our defense.
"I thought our defense was really effective against them," Anderson added. "I thought there guards really played on their heels early on and they really allowed us to not only turn them over, but I thought capitalized on the turnovers as well."
Bell – who ended the night tying a career-high by going 5-of-6 from 3-point range - had 12 points, Harris 11 and Qualls 9 in the first half, which ended with Arkansas ahead 56-25 and in complete control of the contest.
"I thought the tempo was going to our liking, we rebounded the ball well, we did a lot of good things," Anderson said. "You can see there is a lot of balance on our basketball team. Our bench comes in and scores 47 points and a lot of places that is kind of unheard of. But here, it can happen like that and there are going to be different guys on different nights that are going to lead us in scoring.
"The beauty of it is they all share the basketball," Anderson added. "They fix things on defense and I think when we are playing that way a lot of good things take place. We had a lot of highlights and our guys gave our fans a real show."
The Razorbacks fell down 10-7, but then reeled off 39 of the next 45 points to bury their Ohio Valley Conference foe.
Wade and Harris were a part of that when they came off the bench with a flurry both offensively and defensively.
"When you have a wave of guys coming in after a wave of other guys, there is a lot of wear and tear on the other team," Anderson said. "I consider those guys starters - when you talk about Wade and Alandise coming off the bench. That is a big-time luxury."
Harris, a transfer from Houston who sit out last season, was 5-of-7 from the field, 5-of-7 from the free throw line and grabbed four boards and had a block in his first official game as a Razorback.
"It was a normal feeling because I had already gone through two exhibition games," Harris said. "It's cool. It's good. It's just another day, another game, handling business."
Qualls had the most spectacular of those 39 points as he slammed over 6-10 Eagles forward Keaton Jackson.
"After I got him with the pump fake, it was all fair game from there," Qualls said. "The first play of the game I think he blocked my shot of the game so I had it on my mind. It's just attack. That is what Coach preaches and that is what gets me playing time."
Jacorey Williams added 7 points while starting point guard Fred Gulley had a team-high 5 assists.
McDonald's All-American Bobby Portis (6-10, 242) was 1-of-6 from the field as he scored 6 points and had 5 rebounds in his college debut.
"I thought he (Portis) was a little jumpy tonight," Anderson said. "That first game - you never know. But I thought he settled down and did some good things for us."
Fellow 6-10 freshman Moses Kingsley added 4 points, a rebound and a block while playing nine minutes.
Arkansas took its biggest lead of the night at 99-61 with 40 seconds left and had two shots to go over the century mark, but came up empty on both attempts.
The Razorbacks ended the night shooting 51.6 percent from the field (33-64), hit 50 percent of their 3-pointers (8-of-16) and 71.4 percent from the free throw line (25-of-35).
Bell had 5 of his team's 8 3-pointers.
"It's a big confidence boost," Bell said. "...My teammates get me open and get me into spots where I can knock down shots for the team."
Anderson was thrilled to see Bell knock down the 3-pointers, but also added in a nice pull up.
"That's what he does," Anderson said. "He knows what he is capable of doing. I think we have some other guys that are capable...but he is one of those guys that thinks he can make the next five. We are seeing that. But he is not just a jump shooter. He is distributing the ball, draws attention and knows when to give it up. And he's got that little one, two dribble pull up and pretty deadly on that. You have got to have a guy that can extend the defense."
Clarke's 8 rebounds led the Razorbacks' board effort while Portis, Qualls and Scott all added 5 boards each.
SIU Edwardsville had 23 turnovers in the contest while shooting 39.1 percent from the field, 9-of-25 from 3-point range and 6-of-9 from the charity stripe.
Tim Johnson was the lone Cougar in double figure with 13 points.
"It was a road game for us, a tough road game and it just kind of shows us where we are," SIEU head coach Lennox Forrester said. "I thought we did a pretty good job as a team, but sometimes you need a kick in the butt a little bit to show our guys you are not what you think you are."
This was the final game of a three-game suspension for Razorback junior guard Rashad Madden.
Arkansas will return to action next Friday against Louisiana before hosting SMU and Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown on Nov. 18 and then going to Hawaii for the Maui Invitational.
Michael Qualls puts home a highlight reel dunk.
Coty Clarke lays in a basket.
Anthlon Bell drives to the basket.
Fred Gulley pushes the ball on the break.
Moses Kinglsey powers to the rim.
Anthlon Bell made five threes.
Photos by Jason Ivester, Hawgs Illustrated
Arkansas 99, SIU Edwardsville 65
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